With any potential changes to the law that would privatize the way alcohol is sold in Pennsylvania, many consumers are looking for more convenience and choices when they shop.
Those selling beer, wine and spirits are more than ready to appease customer demands, but they have to play by the rules. Lawmakers earlier this year debated privatizing state-run liquor stores and opening up beer sales to more places with the auction of new licenses. But efforts have stalled until the Legislature returns in late September.
"All the decisions are being made by about a dozen people in Harrisburg," says Lew Bryson, a Philadelphia-area beer and spirits writer, editor and blogger.
Mike Ruby, manager at Wegmans, 201 William St., said his store wants to offer wine in addition to the beer selection it has had since 2008.
"Our customers have pretty much told us they want more convenience and access to beer and wine," Ruby says. "It's not been the most popular thing with people, but we think it's the right thing to do. Ideally, we would like to be able to sell wine because we think it pairs with food very well."
Ruby says Wegmans has had a solid history of selling beer in its store.
"The response was overwhelming," he says when the grocery store first began selling beer. "We've demonstrated that we can serve and sell in a safe place."
Wegmans policy is to check identification on every alcohol purchase.
Ruby, however, says some parts of the privatization bill could negatively affect the store. Under one proposal, beer distributors would get first access to sell wine and spirits. If a beer distributor with a new wine and spirits license located within a one-quarter mile of Wegmans, the grocery store would not be able to sell the same products until 2024, according to Ruby.
The focus of privatization should be to benefit the consumer, Ruby adds.
"We know from our experience in other states that it can be done," he says.
Weis Markets sells beer at its Lewisburg and Sunbury grocery stores. Company spokesman Dennis Curtin agreed with Ruby that convenience is the most important thing for their shoppers.
Still, Curtin doesn't seem to have his hopes up for timely change.
"We think it's deeply flawed legislation," he said of privatization proposals offered so far. "While it seems like meaningful reform, it really isn't."
Curtin did say Weis Markets would be interested in selling wine along with beer if laws were changed to do so.
For Corey Moersch, 24, who moved to the area from Texas this year, purchasing alcohol is a different experience from his home state. He said he was used to the availability of spirits at nearly any retail location there.
"Most convenience stores on the corner have it," he said. "When I came out here, it was a change."