Gouging for the Green
It’s raining in St. Louis on this St. Patrick’s day, so I wouldn’t be surprised if today’s Ancient Order of Hibernians Parade were less well-attended than usual (which is fine by me, because I managed to combine my celebration with exercise at a previous event this past weekend). However, the controversial outside alcohol ban enacted around the parade (and previously commented upon by Mr. Stokes) gained another dimension this morning after this report was issued by the Post-Dispatch.
According to the Post, parade organizers set up a checkpoint system to prevent parade-goers from bringing in outside alcohol without remembering that there was still one non-bar establishment within the checkpoints from which alcoholic beverages could be purchased:
But the Hibernians forgot about Patrick’s. The store is inside a
city-designated "festival area," only the perimeter of which the
security guards will patrol.
Bob Kraiberg, the city’s excise commissioner, said that the city has
lifted its usual ban on street drinking for the parade and that nothing
is to stop liquor store customers from drinking their purchases
Thus, in a land of $8 beers, thousands of wet, drunken parade goers will have a single refuge where gallons of a certain locally brewed product can still be obtained in the aluminum format St. Louisans love so much:
Patrick Wrzesinski, the store’s owner, said there’s a good chance this
year’s sales could set a record. On Friday, he said, he was stocking
500 cases of beer.
Although I won’t be at the event, I can certainly understand the appeal for all parties of a within-checkpoint liquor store where purchases can immediately be consumed outside on the street. Although the issue of protectionism was already commented upon in the previous post by our resident redhead, it seems that Mr. Wrzesinski has suddenly been presented with a wonderful practice point in market economics.
When you go to a ballgame at Busch Stadium, you’re not paying $8 for a beer because that’s how much it costs the good people on Pestalozzi Street to make you’re paying that much because naming a building after your company pretty much gives you a monopoly over the market. If you could get it cheaper, you would but instead, you fork over the cash. Patrick’s now has the luxury of benefiting from restricted supply and heightened demand, and they are perfectly within their right to do so. After all, if the beer is $8 outside, what’s to stop Patrick’s from doubling its prices to take advantage of the situation? This practice has been defended before in this space, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t again be applied here.
So go forth, lucky lone liquor store, charge $10 for six cans of Bud Light! Everyone will thank you for it … except for every other alcohol retailer within five miles they’ll still hate your guts.