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The View from the Valley

An Exploration into Town-Gown Relations

Duck & Cover: Beer Sales Debut At Wegmans

In a move that administrators at Penn State would undoubtedly chide as contributing to State College’s “drinking problem,” Wegmans has begun selling beer in its grocery store just off of North Atherton Street at 345 Colonnade Way.

This is a rather unprecedented move for Pennsylvania, as alcohol is strictly regulated by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). There was (and probably will be) much controversy over Wegmans decision to begin selling beer at its grocery store after it applied for a liquor license transfer more than 12 months ago.

Beer Sales Debut At Wegmans (CDT) — Wegmans is now selling beer at its store at 345 Colonnade Way, store manager Steve Gallucci said Thursday.

Gallucci said sales started Wednesday and have been well-received by customers.

“Most of the folks who come through are excited we have it from a convenience standpoint,” he said.

Convenience, along with an enhanced dining experience, has always been the goal of selling beer in-house — customers responded favorably to sales, citing convenience, in a poll completed by Wegmans about six months ago, Gallucci said.

“That spoke loudly to us,” he said. The store’s liquor license transfer was approved in late March after more than 16 months. It had faced opposition from local beer distributors and the Malt Beverage Distributors Association, an outside attorney for Wegmans said previously. The transfer is being appealed by the association.

Since the transfer, Gallucci said the store has undergone modifications, from the addition of two beer coolers to creating a separated licensed area, which encompasses much of the restaurant and cafe area.

“We have a wide selection of all different types of beer,” he said, adding choices include domestic, imported and microbrews. “It’s a pretty good selection.

A separate seating area away from the alcohol sales is still available, he said.

Customers are able to purchase up to two six-packs or buy single serve selections for in-house consumption in the restaurant.

“You can actually take a beer and have it with your meal,” he said.

From my perspective as one who is underage this is good news for our community in the State College area. I’ve long held that most of the “drinking problem” at Penn State is statistical hysteria caused by a misreading of the facts when it comes to incidents involving alcohol.

It will be very refreshing for me to see someone enjoying a beer with their meal the next time I’m in Wegmans. The less we treat alcohol as inherently taboo at Penn State, the more we’ll be opening ourselves up to genuine, helpful dialog on the subject.

If we’re serious about wanting to educate students on responsible, healthy alcohol consumption, we need to first trust one another enough to expose those students to the danger that comes with alcohol. Just as we cannot teach others how to drive without first exposing them to the danger of sitting behind the wheel, so to can we not expect to teach ourselves how to drink without exposing ourselves to alcohol.

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