New Castle News

Closer Look

February 28, 2013

Liquor store profitability explored

HARRISBURG — While the state-run liquor system posted a $103 million profit last year, the 25 worst performing of the 605 state stores posted a combined loss of $274,074, data provided by the Liquor Control Board shows.

Thirteen of the state stores that posted losses in 2011-12 have modest profits halfway through the year, but that includes the extremely lucrative holiday season and some of the stores now in the black may fade back into the red by the end of the fiscal year, an LCB spokeswoman cautioned.

Skip Brion, chairman of the Liquor Control Board, said it is unlikely the state-run monopoly will ever be able to completely eliminate unprofitable stores. The board will “always have some unprofitable stores in rural areas.”

Brion was appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett, who has proposed privatizing the liquor system as a means of improving consumer choice while generating $1 billion for schools.

The issue of profitability was raised by Sen. John Gordner, a Republican from Columbia County, in the appropriations committee hearing on Monday. Gordner said the question of store performance is something to consider when one wonders about the impact of privatization on rural areas of the state.

Gordner noted that while the governor’s privatization plan would guarantee all counties have at least one liquor outlet, in geographically large counties, that would still mean some residents would have to travel an inordinate distance to get to the liquor store.

“I know there would be liquor stores near the colleges in my districts” but other areas might be under-served, he said.

But Brion said he does not believe privatizing would necessarily mean less access to retail outlets serving beer, wine or hard liquor.

“We are a monopoly,” he said. “If privatization were to occur, those licenses would go to bigger entities like Walmart and grocery stories.”

The number of stores bleeding red ink has dropped from about 50 a few years ago, as the Liquor Control Board has tried various cost-cutting measures, Brion said.

In some locations, the board has cut store hours so fewer employees are needed and some poor performing stores are only open three days a week, Brion said.

“I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made over the years in diminishing the number of unprofitable stores,” said Liquor Control Board member Bob Marcus.

Marcus said when the revenue generated by the Johnstown flood tax is included, all stores turned a profit. “Our staff has worked hard to make that happen.”

Tuesday, Gordner said his concerns about privatization extend beyond the potential change in availability in rural areas.

“I believe that the stores are run and managed pretty well, especially with the modernization emphasis over the past five to 10 years. But there is also a ‘control’ element.’ I am not aware of any underage purchasers of alcohol at state stores for example because there are full-time state employees that would otherwise lose their job working the cash registers.”

Gordner added the hours of operations at the state store that offer “sufficient convenience in my opinion but also do not allow for a midnight or 3 a.m. purchase of 100-proof alcohol.”

(Email: jfinnerty@cnhi.com)

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Closer Look
  • money.jpg AFSCME, county back to bargaining table

    A courthouse labor union and county government officials hope to try a third time to reach a contract agreement. County administrator James Gagliano, who represents the county’s collective bargaining team, said talks are scheduled for May 2 between county negotiators and members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2902.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • tv04.jpg New Castle director, writer, producer filming zombie pilot locally

    The horror genre holds a special fascination for Tom Stoops. He has been a devotee of that film style since he was young. So it makes perfect sense that as a director, executive producer, writer and actor, zombies would show up in his latest project.

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • money.jpg Neshannock trail to be integrated regionally

    Construction of a downtown section of the Neshannock Creek Trail is expected to commence this summer. Lawrence County planning director Amy McKinney briefed the county commissioners yesterday on a 1,400-mile trails project initiated by Power of 32.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shale royalty meeting for landowners planned

    Lawrence County residents who have questions about royalties on gas drilling leases are invited to a meeting tomorrow.

    April 23, 2014

  • Townships to pave roads

    Youngblood Paving Inc. was awarded a contract for this year’s road maintenance in North Beaver and Little Beaver townships.

    April 23, 2014

  • oneill.tiff Union principal receives award

    Union Area School District’s elementary principal will receive the 2014 Distinguished Female Educator Award. The award from the Tri-State Area School Study Council is to be presented April 24 to Linda J. O’Neill during the 12th annual Dr. Jean Winsand International Institute for Women in School Leadership at the Edgewood Country Club in Penn Hills.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Good to grow: Library to offer seed lending program

    Patrons of the New Castle Public Library will soon have another service to look forward to. For newcomers to gardening and seasoned pros, the library is having — for the first time — a seed lending program.

    April 22, 2014

  • Knives prompt reporting of school violence

    On a typical day last year, Pennsylvania schools caught 11 students toting weapons. They were knives, similar to ones used to slash 21 students and a security guard at a Pittsburgh-area high school, according to the state Department of Education.

    April 22, 2014

  • Ferannte.tiff Upholstery shop showcases music, talent

    Following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Jim Ferrante is working to improve his community.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local pastor helping fire victims

    A local pastor is opening up donation avenues to help two families who lost their homes to fire this week.

    April 18, 2014

House Ads
Seasonal Content
Section Teases
Must Read
Continuous Super Bowl Coverage