The Lobotomized Defenders of the 3 Tier System of Alcohol Sales

wholesaler-lobotomyI’ve always wondered if there is some sort of super secret initiation ceremony one must go through before becoming a wholesaler at which a small tube is inserted into the frontal lobe and part of the prospective distributor’s brain is sucked out:

“The idea that, somehow, distributors are against craft beer is just very inaccurate. We’re not against a 64-ounce container, and we’re not against a tap room at the brewery. Our issue is that you collapse the three-tier system when you permit a brewer to act entirely like a retailer….The legislature believes that the three-tier system is valuable to society. The focus tends to be on the middle tier, which is intentional, to separate the retailer from the brewer, so that the brewer cannot dominate the retailer.”
Mitch Rubin, executive director for the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association

I invite you to read this story, where the wholesaler-with-no-frontal-lobe quote came from. It describes the quintessential problems with the three-tier system: entitlement, bribery, devotion to the archaic, imaginary market demons and the power of shaming to overcome it all.

The issue was a simple one: Should craft brewers in Florida be able to fill growlers of the standard 64 ounces, as well as those of 32 oz and 128 oz as the law currently allowed. Then the wholesalers got involved and saw the growler bill amended to include a number of onerous and punitive measures aimed at craft brewers. Then it was discovered that the author of the punitive measures was taking cash from the wholesalers right before he introduced his punitive measures that protected wholesalers.
This bizarre sanctity that is afforded the three-tier system is based on a world and imagined marketplace that is so far in the past that you can bet its proponents like Mike Rubin are just itching to vote for Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the next presidential election…That is, if their lobotomized brain will allow them to find the polling place.


3 Responses

  1. Laura Leet - March 27, 2014

    You hit it on head with your remark “cash was given …..” It’s all about the money, and the big business wholesale liquor industry keeping it, and getting more of it! Money, money money.
    (Re three tier system)

  2. Rob McMillan - March 31, 2014

    Tom – agree with the brains sucked out comment. In a capitalist society where clearly direct sales are growing which indicates a market need and an opportunity – why wouldn’t the wholesalers conclude:
    1) We aren’t doing a good enough job and have created the need ourselves for direct sales – so let’s get better and squash that initiative, or
    2) Let’s figure out how to facilitate direct sales and take a cut before it’s too late.
    I shouldn’t be too hard on them. Change is difficult for everyone and maintaining an unnatural legislated competitive advantage wouldn’t be easy to walk from. But someday – not sure when, wholesalers will come to realize their job is to facilitate sales from the producer to the end consumer. They will partner with retailers to sell alcoholic beverages direct and bring value to the process ….. and then the lion will lie down with the lamb.
    It’s out of my scope of understanding, but I think the wholesalers themselves would be held up with the 3-Tier rule if they tried to enter that fray, especially with retailers. Can you imagine a court case funded by wholesalers to tear down the 3-Tier system so they can control direct sales too?

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