In many other states, it would hardly be news at all that a supermarket under construction wanted to sell six-packs of beer to go. But it is news - more precisely, good news - that a Giant Eagle Market District store destined for the Settlers Ridge project in Robinson is seeking the transfer of a restaurant liquor license.
It would become the first supermarket in the area to be able to dispense up to two six-packs of beer to customers. If it happens, it will be because of a happy quirk in the state liquor law. Restaurant licenses permit the sale and consumption of beer, wine and liquor on the premises - and a small amount of beer to carry out.
Of course, supermarkets never used to have restaurants but times change. Recently, Commonwealth Court upheld the sale of alcohol by the Wegman supermarket chain in its stores that have restaurants.
Giant Eagle already sells alcohol in supermarkets in neighboring Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland, where, a company spokesman said, customers appreciate the convenience.
No surprise there. What is a surprise is that some factions in Pennsylvania still believe that a system that benefits the few is more important than the convenience that favors the many. Giant Eagle's reasonable request (and another by Whole Foods in the eastern part of the state) is opposed by the Pennsylvania Malt Beverage Distributors, which has a self-interest so naked that it could make a Budweiser horse blush.
The beer distributors obviously fear that their own monopoly would be threatened by competition, which in other parts of America is counted as a good thing.
They have it all wrong. What is good news for consumers ought to be good news for those who serve them. The distributors, of course, are victims of the same archaic system and sell beer just by the case. Instead of opposing Giant Eagle and other supermarkets, they should be demanding the right to sell six-packs themselves.