Beer distributor: Corbett 'wants to put me out of business'

Beer distributor: Corbett 'wants to put me out of business'

SPRING TWP., Pa. - Some small businesses owners said they are on edge after hearing that the state is looking to get out of the liquor-selling business.

In fact, one local beer distributor said Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett's plan could spell doom for his company.

Tom Derr has been in business for more than 60 years. His beer distributor, West Lawn Beverage Company in Spring Township, Berks Co., is practically a landmark, but he said that may all change.

"Now suddenly, the governor wants to put me out of business," Derr said.

Corbett announced Wednesday in Pittsburgh that he wants to privatize the entire liquor-selling business. That means customers would be able to buy beer, wine and spirits all in one spot, in places like a supermarket or a restaurant.

To keep up with the competition, Derr said he would have to purchase an additional wine and liquor license and pay for costly renovations to hold all the added inventory.

"You're talking close to $1.5 million to $2 million to do this," Derr said. "Where am I going to dig up that kind of money?"

"Change as we all know is not very easy, but it is the only thing that has ever brought progress," said Corbett.

Over the next four years, the governor said he hopes to raise $1 billion by auctioning off 1,200 wine and liquor licenses. That money would be invested in a block grant for public schools.      

Pennsylvania is the only state in the country, other than Utah, still involved in the liquor business.

"It's time for Pennsylvania to lift the rules in place for 75 years because the selling of alcohol is not a core responsibility of government," said Corbett.

Derr is also concerned about the governor's plan because he said, if it goes through, it could put quite a few people at this business out of work.

"This business here supports maybe four or five families," said Derr. "Mortgages, cars, taxes. Close me down, they're going to be out looking for jobs."

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Allentown, PA 18102


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