Fresh Grocer wine kiosk closes
Alleged monetary disputes between the PA Liquor Control Board and the machine supplier spurred the decision to close.
September 20, 2011, 11:07 pm·
The Fresh Grocer was in poor spirits about the end of its year-old wine kiosk Tuesday.
During its stay at the Fresh Grocer, the kiosk was run entirely by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, in accordance with state law which makes it illegal for grocery stores to sell spirits.
The PLCB told The Philadelphia Inquirer that they are shutting down the kiosks because of alleged monetary disputes between themselves and the machine supplier, Simple Brands L.L.C.
This company was meant to supply the machines to locations at no cost to the PLCB while absorbing some of the profits. However, the PLCB claims to not have been reimbursed for over $1 million in “expenses it incurred, such as for stocking or wiring the kiosks.”
On the contrary, as they explained to the Inquirer in the past, Simple Brands claimed that the PLCB had “incurred unnecessary expenses and improperly billed them” to Simple Brands.
The Fresh Grocer’s Marketing Director Carly Spross expressed disappointment at the PLCB’s decision to close the wine kiosks. She stressed that this service brought “convenience” to the Fresh Grocer’s customers and “helped bring in additional foot traffic to our stores.”
The kiosk required customers to scan identification to prove they were of age, blow under a .02 on the breathalyzer and wait while a video image taken of them at the kiosk was compared to the identification photo by a PLCB employee.
However, some claim the machine did not always work as intended. While some valid identification cards were rejected by the scanner, some underage students said they used fake IDs to purchase wine.
A Wharton sophomore claimed “it was easy” to purchase wine from the machine, adding that she was dismayed by the kiosk’s closing.
Lambros Theofanidis, a College senior, was less than thrilled with his experience using the wine kiosk in Fresh Grocer at 40th and Walnut streets.
Theofanidis explained that he would prefer “to go to a wine shop, hold the bottle, read the story” behind the wine and make a more educated decision than that made possible by peering through the kiosk’s glass. Only the neck of the bottle is made visible while a separate label gives the wine’s name.
Theofanidis added that he will not be sad to see it go.