Wine Kiosks Die
You may have missed this whole ordeal if you weren’t looking, but rest assured, your tax dollars paid for it. We’re talking about the dispute between the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and Conshohocken-based Simple Brands, Inc., the company that produced those Pennsylvania wine kiosks you likely never used because they’d yet to really infiltrate and clot in Philly. Well, good riddance to those things, we guess, because Simple Brands defaulted on the $1.2 million it owed the state today.
This comes in a long line of bad news for the company, its vending machines and the PLCB. As we blogged back in August, Wegman’s supermarkets got rid of ten machines this summer, citing mechanical problems and malfunctions. Then Wal Mart decided to drop their original plan to add kiosks to two dozen stores. All the while, Legislature Republicans had been licking their chops in anticipation for the fall, when they’d finally introduce and debate liquor privatization legislation that—with a Republican House, Senate and Governor—finally had a chance of passing.
In addition to the mechanical malfunctions, the whole thing—from the way the vending machines were decided upon to the way they worked—was just shady. As the libertarian think tank Commonwealth Foundation has repeatedly made public, Simple Brands, Inc.’s investors had donated $400 thousand to former Governor Ed Rendell’s re-election campaign. It stayed in business despite the kiosks consistently lost money for the state (though PLCB CEO said on August 30 that “wine kiosks are a profitable program and four to five [more] years would prove that”), and their failure was even predicted by a PLCB committee before being put in stores. On top of that, they required you to jump through hoops to get your hands on some libations (blowing into the machine to prove you weren’t drunk, smile for a camera, insert your credit card, etc.) and the people just weren’t having it. So long.