The Sticker Printing Prowess of Wine Distributors
It appears that the alcohol distributors in North Carolina along with their national umbrella organization the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association are very proud of themselves for having printed up stickers discouraging minors from drinking.
So proud of this sticker printing project that they issued a press release congratulating themselves on their sticker printing prowess.
One small quote in the press release by Bill Kennedy, president of
Mutual Distributing of Raleigh, reminded me of an idea I’ve ruminated on for some time. Mr. Kennedy said:
“The alcohol industry has a unique and
special responsibility to encourage and support government and
community programs that inform everyone about the dangers of
unregulated access to alcohol.”
It has always struck me that as long as wholesalers are going to be supported by the state with the creation of an anti-competitive landscape (the state-mandated 3 tier system) for them to work and derive profit from, then they should also have a "special responsibility" to spend a certain amount of their state-granted profits on more than sticker printing projects.
Let’s face it, American and North Carolinian alcohol distributors owe their enormous profits to their status as state-supported special interests. The state mandates that nearly every bottle of alcohol be shovel through the wholesalers before reaching the retailer or restaurant. This allows the wholesalers to take a profit that might not otherwise be taken since the producer might otherwise choose to sell directly to the retailer or even the consumer.
It turns out that North Carolinians may purchase wine from out-of-state and have it shipped to them, but only from wineries, not from retailers. This means that enormous amounts of greats wines (particularly rare wines, imported wines, and wines that are no longer available from the winery) are unavailable to North Carolinians since the states wholesalers won’t bring them in.
The fact that North Carolinians can receive wine from any out-of-state winery is only a result of a hard won court battle in which the North Carolinian and national wholesalers did their best to prevent this. In fact, wholesalers argued that it would be better if no one could ship wine to North Carolinians, including North Carolina wineries, rather than allow all wineries in the U.S. to ship to North Carolinians.
But back to my point. Only a very small amount of wine can legally be shipped to North Carolina consumers and most wine sold in North Carolina by law must go through their wholesalers. Shouldn’t these businesses that receive such enormous support and special privileges from the state be required to plow a certain percentage of their profits back into the state…and I’m talking beyond the printing of stickers.
If it were me suggesting a fair demand to be placed on the specially privileged wholesalers, I’d say they should be required to pay some portion of their profits–perhaps 10%–to a fund that would be used to promote North Carolina’s wineries and brewers and to promote the existence of the direct-to-consumer channel.
At this point, North Carolina’s distributors, as well as distributors in most other states, are being granted a HUGE state-mandated, anti-competitive advantage that supplies them with enormous profits by virtue of the laws that literally guarantee they will make a profit if they can figure out how to load and unload boxes on to a truck.
It’s not enough that they print up stickers with cute sayings.