Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wine Kiosks

In the past, I have lambasted the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's newest project: wine kiosks. However, now that the wine kiosks are rapidly expanding and making their way to 14 Western Pennsylvania Giant Eagles by September, I'm starting to embrace the idea.

How they work? You're allowed to buy wine from a sophisticated vending machine.
A customer must first scan his driver's license by inserting it into a slot on the kiosk, then peer into a camera so that an LCB employee working at an office in Harrisburg can determine that the customer is the same person pictured on the license.
So what's the next step? Why not have independent stores with the same "safeguards"? Why not have Giant Eagle employ sommeliers next to their wine kiosk who can answer questions and determine which wines fill up the kiosk? Why not let Dreadnought Wines in the Strip District have their own kiosk filled with their own chosen wines?

Who's complaining? The Independent State Store Union. Members of this union know their jobs are at risk. It's unfortunate for the folks who work at the state stores. They have a pretty swell gig with a guaranteed pension in a market that has been ever-increasing for as far back as anyone can remember. But change is inevitable and cushy state pensions are on the chopping block. Ultimately, more options for buying wine will mean more jobs. So I say: Bring on the wine kiosks and may more change keep coming.

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