The state Liquor Control Board must be feeling threatened again. We can tell because, every time there are legislative proposals afoot that would get Pennsylvania out of the alcohol business, the LCB starts tinkering around the edges of its operations.
This time, the LCB's concession to consumer convenience comes in the form of slightly longer hours at 102 of its stores, including 24 in southwestern Pennsylvania. The bone being thrown is that some stores will open as much as two hours earlier than normal Mondays through Saturdays, while some will stay open as long as two hours later. Operating hours at all stores that are open on Sundays will remain noon to 5 p.m. because Sunday sales are set by state law.
Locally, the store at Penn Circle South in East Liberty -- one of the state's 10 highest-grossing liquor stores -- will close at 10 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. Big deal.
The LCB says it considered financial information, customer traffic and the expense of remaining open for additional time in making its decisions, which is exactly what a private entrepreneur would do, and then some.
The government monopoly's weak efforts to masquerade as a legitimate business venture hides little but the effort to retain this relic. Pennsylvanians want private enterprise, which will bring convenience and price competition in a way that no state-run bureaucracy can.
The extended hours are bound to draw customers. Their patronage is not the same thing as support for the LCB.