End of PLCB’s Wine Kiosk Perestroika

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s experiment with wine kiosks—dubbed by my colleague Jay Ostrich as the PLCB’s version of Perestroika—may be coming to an end. This comes on the heels of a dispute with the contractor responsible for the wine kiosks, Simple Brands, which the PLCB claims overbilled and owes the state $1 million.

Once celebrated by the PLCB as the way to “bring exactly what customers are saying they want—convenience,” the kiosk experiment has (inconveniently) proven to be a colossal failure. From the get-go, the picture-taking, breathalyzing kiosks have underperformed and malfunctioned. Wegmans, one of the state’s largest grocery chains and biggest kiosk users, recently dropped them.

Some are wondering why an agency that came up with such an absurd program would be given a complete monopoly over wine and liquor sales in the commonwealth. They include the Scranton Times Tribune, making the case that the recent audit revealing rampant waste at the PLCB should be the “last call” for government-run liquor stores.