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Posted at 4:18 PM ET, 11/10/2009

Don't mess with Virginia's ABC stores

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Bob Hugman
Woodbridge


In his Nov. 8 Local Opinions piece, Garrett Peck argued for the privatization of Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) liquor stores. He stated that the ABC concept grew out of Prohibition and that “ABC was once about promoting temperance, but the abstinence movement has basically died.” This statement is odd because abstinence and temperance are different things.

There is nothing wrong with promoting moderation. As for state revenue, selling the licenses to the private sector would generate a one-time lump sum, after which Virginia would lose out on the annual revenue stream from sales. While privatizing could result in many more liquor stores and likely more sales tax revenue in the future, do Virginians want this?

Virginia’s ABC concept is perfect and should be left alone. We don’t need the screaming printed or televised advertisements for vodka and other hard liquors that one sees elsewhere. We also don’t need stand-alone big-box liquor stores on the edge of town. The ABC stores in my county are in local strip malls and are very low-key. If I buy something from a local ABC store, I cannot do it with the anonymity that I could at a stand-alone store. This promotes responsibility and moderation.

The ABC concept is as valid today as it was in the 1930s. Hard liquor sales should not be privatized.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | November 10, 2009; 4:18 PM ET
 
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Comments

You actually believe this promotes moderation and responsibility in alcohol consumption? Thanks, I really needed a good laugh today.

Posted by: novalfter | November 10, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I support state ownership of the liquor stores. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Leave it alone, Mr. McDonnell!

Posted by: SecularHumanist1 | November 10, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Only a teetotaler would suggest privatizing Virginia's ABC stores. They are clean, well run and generate a lot of revenue for the Commonwealth. As one who has purchased liquor for years in many parts of the country, I say this is like fooling with the formula for Coca Cola. Compare Virginia's stores with private stores in DC, MD or PA. They are typically poorly lit, dirty stores that appear seedy. Need more revenue? Raise prices. Selling the ABC stores is like killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

Posted by: oldtimer6 | November 11, 2009 7:05 AM | Report abuse

Screw freedom, state run stores for all! Ah yes, they are such pretty little stores aren't they? What a great rationalization for state control. I know of an even better golden egg, state run food stores, problems solved. But don't let those grocery stores sell liquor alongside beer and wine, all hell will break loose, we need tough principled politicians to stand up and pretend we need them to save us from ourselves, and seedy looking stores.

Posted by: permagrin | November 11, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse


Apparently, the promoters of retaining exclusively State owned liquor stores in Virginia don't believe in free enterprise or free will. The nanny State needs to protect us from hard liquor. Apparently, they don't think that Virginians have the moral fiber of even Californians, the lowest form of human life in North America (just kidding). In California one can buy bottles of booze at convenience stores. You can buy a gun anywhere in the Commonwealth without State-operated gun stores, why not a bottle of liquor?

Hey, maybe it's time for State gun and liquor store combinations? Think of the advertising and political co-marketing opportunities: "a shot for a shot", "take a shot for tax reform" or "we're drunks with guns and we vote." The possibilities are probably endless and thoughtless. This'll work! Gun control with a buzz!

Posted by: chantillyjack1 | November 11, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Privitazing the state liquor stores will allow for the elimination of numerous state employees, saving the taxpayers millions in pay and benefits in the future.

Posted by: bnichols6 | November 11, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse


It's time for Bob Hugman to come out of his cave. You live in a county that is nothing but strip malls and other large retailers. Your county is a place to visit, not to live.

What is this business about anonymity? Do you think people care if you are going into an ABC or private store to buy booze? If you do, it is time for you to get some mental health assistance because paranoia is taking over your pea brain.

I have had enough of sanctimonious types such as yourself. Let the free market reign.


Posted by: mortified469 | November 11, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

"Compare VA's stores with private stores in DC, MD, or PA."

Actually, Pennsylvania does not have private liquor stores. Its stores are also state controlled, though they may differ in appearance (and price and customer service) from Virginia's.

Posted by: mkarns | November 12, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse

None of the pro-privatization commenters, despite their disparaging remarks, have stated how they would replace the income derived from the stores. A one time lump sum for the stores is a pittance compared to future revenue streams. There is really no good reason to do this.

Posted by: Falmouth1 | November 12, 2009 5:27 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I hate the state-run liquor stores. If you've ever done any price comparisons between DC and VA, you'll see that VA is making a mint off its population (at least those of you who don't go to DC instead).

But now that McDonnell is governor, I expect to see a lot of his conservatism come to pass: Prayer in schools, refusing Federal money because it steps on states' rights, banning abortions, ending 'government-run health care programs' like Medicaid and Medicare.

C'mon, guv. You tried not to talk the talk. But you're going to have to walk the walk.

Posted by: Froomkin_fan | November 12, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Conservatives hate government except when it oppresses people they don't like.

Posted by: Neal3 | November 13, 2009 3:13 AM | Report abuse

Why is this bad?

The state still gets all the taxes from the sales.

All that happens is that we get rid of a few government employees and the payroll and taxes and benefits become private sector problems, instead of a liability for the state.

You wont have liquor stores on every corner.. These are sales of existing stores.

The governement can retain the right to force any new stores to be state owned stores, or have the state say where any new stores can be.

Any new stores can also come with a nice 100k Fee to the state.

Posted by: cstrike | November 13, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Some donkey named oldtime6 wrote:
"Compare Virginia's stores with private stores in DC, MD or PA. They are typically poorly lit, dirty stores that appear seedy. Need more revenue? Raise prices. Selling the ABC stores is like killing the goose that laid the golden egg."

Fine. Just like McDonald's and shut down your franchise if you don't keep it clean, the state can shut down your store if it does not meet the state franchise standard.

Posted by: cstrike | November 13, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Some donkey named Falmouth1 wrote:
"None of the pro-privatization commenters, despite their disparaging remarks, have stated how they would replace the income derived from the stores. A one time lump sum for the stores is a pittance compared to future revenue streams. There is really no good reason to do this."

The state can simply have a 'franchise fee' where they make 5% of sales.

There. Stop crying. Now the state still makes money, has no liability and no employee expense and benefits.

So they make money from initial Fees, make money ongoing, and have less expenses.

Posted by: cstrike | November 13, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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