Welcome!

Hello to all and welcome to our new members. I want to take a moment to talk a little bit about why we have chosen not to focus directly on moving beer and wine into wide grocery distribution. We recognize that this specific issue has always been at the front of other public interest movements trying to make some sweeping legislative changes in an effort to bring Oklahoma’s laws into a more modern scope. The success or failure of any issue that we champion will be determined largely by the amount and kind(s) of opposition that we face. The grocery issue will face a devastating amount of opposition from a number of different directions. Wholesaler lobbies, religious organizations, family focus groups and retailer lobbies are just the bigger groups that have opposed this issue successfully in the past. Our goals are crafted in an attempt to avoid direct opposition from any of these groups and that will give us a great advantage.

Before I continue, I think that it will be a good idea to examine our current structure of laws in our state that are already in place. There are some very important ways that these laws benefit Oklahoma and her citizenry. Since the repeal of the 21st Amendment, states are now free to set their own alcohol laws. Oklahoma repealed it’s prohibition in 1959, the last state to do so. Oklahomans created a 3-tier system for distribution with the sole purpose to restrict trade in Oklahoma to businesses that are owned completely by Oklahomans. This prevented out-of-state corporations from taking control of this industry and created a major benefit to our state by keeping revenues and taxes going directly back to our state. The 3 tiers are as follows:

The Broker

Brokers are responsible for finding products to distribute in Oklahoma. These are the guys that get your favorite new beer, liquor and wine on retail shelves. Brokers have been doing a great job lately. We’ve seen Mad River Brewing, Ommegang, North Coast, DuPont and Anderson Valley for example. New products are coming every month. Brokers listen to consumers and foster close relationships with leading retailers to position themselves to respond to consumer demand. They contact breweries (using beer as an example) to see if that brewer is interested in expanding their distribution. Sometimes brewers are unable to expand for a number of internal reasons, not least of which is production volume. When brewers are ready to expand into new markets they will use the broker to represent their product and get it into the state for distribution. I know of no state that does not have a brokerage system.

The Wholesalers

Just because a retailer uses the word “wholesaler” in their title, it does not mean that they are a licensed wholesalers. Licensed wholesalers are not allowed to sell directly to the public. Instead, the wholesalers’ function is to get products together in a central system from all of the different brokers in the state. The wholesaler will store, and in many cases deliver, the products to individual retailer, restaurants and bars. In states where there is not wholesale houses, national retailers will take control of this level of distribution and then fix the price structure to their benefit. Furthermore, they will sell the products directly to their own retail operations. Oklahoma has several wholesalers. The number of wholesalers in the state forces competition and keeps prices reasonable across the board for the consumer. National retailers would fix prices so low that no competition could be fruitful.

The Retailer, Restaurant or Bar.
Well, you know these guys, right?

There is a public sentiment that we have noticed. The public feels that this system creates greed and impropriety. It does not. It keeps Oklahoma jobs, revenues and businesses functioning. If a national retailer get’s involved in the system, the level of greed, price-fixing, and poor regulation will force Oklahoman’s to close their businesses and Oklahoma will loose a greater share of money, while spending more in an attempt to enforce all the new licensees. This is the opposition to the grocery issue. This is why we have chosen to focus on more attainable change at this point in time. If we are identified as the enemy by the lobby groups we will suffer the same fate as movements past. There are many changes that we can make that will not be seen as a threat, and will change the way the consumer shops. Our purpose is to seek those issues out and to bring them to the fore.

Thanks for all your friendship and support!

10 RESPONSES TO Welcome!

  1. Chris 02/16/2010 at 1:08 am

    Kudos, David. Well spoken and well put as always. This movement benefits from having you and your massive knowledge of the Oklahoma system and laws.

  2. Randy Burleson 02/16/2010 at 6:35 pm

    Awesome pic Matt!
    Thank you David for your insight!

  3. Bille 02/16/2010 at 11:39 pm

    Thanks for clearing some of that up, David, especially the part about brokers. I always wondered whom was responsible for new beers coming in (none of the wholesalers I contacted would/could tell me).

    btw, it was the modification of the Volstead Act that led to the 21st Ammendment that repealed the 18th ammendment and prohibition, no?

  4. David 02/17/2010 at 12:01 pm

    Yes Bille, you are correct. The coffee hadn’t kicked in yet when I wrote that…

  5. Beer Lover 02/17/2010 at 5:10 pm

    I believe you have a few things a little misworded. When you spoke about the brokerage and wholesalers, were you speaking of the 3.2% or strong beer side, as they are very different in Oklahoma. The 3.2% side is a true “3 tier system” while the strong beer side is a 4 tier system. There are no brokers on the 3.2% side, just Suppliers, Distributors, and Retailers. The strong side consists of a Supplier, NRS (broker), Class B Wholesaler, and Retailer.

  6. Leslie Bonebreak 02/22/2010 at 1:54 pm

    I have heard that the ABLE commission is unique to OK and is an unnecessary state branch. Can you expound on this?

    Also, waiting tables and bar tending are some of the few jobs a person with minimum education and skills or experience can acquire that will allow someone to earn a middle class living. We won’t allow people who have a felony record to obtain a liquor license. Is this fair and is this tolerated in other states?

  7. Chris 02/23/2010 at 1:40 pm

    Leslie,

    This point about felons being able to serve liquor and beer was recently brought up on our facebook page. I believe this is a valid concern and one we will definitely discuss at our next meeting. Thanks!

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  9. Edward Wildin 12/27/2013 at 11:22 am

    When I was in jail back in 2006 I was told by my lawyer that Oklahoma could keep me in jail pretty much indefinitely as long as I saw a judge every so many days and got passed. This had already went on for 2 months, for crap I didn’t do. My accuser was not coming to court for fear of going to jail for multiple offenses, and I didn’t have the money to bond out so I could work AND fight this. Instead, I thought what harm will it really do for me to plead guilty? I don’t really vote, and I’m ANTI-Gun for everyone. Period. Worldwide. So I figured I wouldn’t lose anything. If I had known I would lose the right to do a job that I am FANTASTIC at because of it, I would have stayed in jail until it was dropped. Since I am now a felon who is stuck living in Oklahoma it would be nice to have the ability to wait tables again. I hope you are able to get something done about it.

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