I'm a PA resident and I'm very conflicted about our state store system.
- Provides a living wage with benefits and pensions to a bunch of retail employees.
- The PLCB is one of the largest bulk purchasers of alcohol in the world, so prices are very reasonable
- Reasonably functional website that lets you figure out the availability of a particular bottle without driving all over town
- Has a fairly large amount of unusual/expensive stuff at a central warehouse and will special-order it to the liquor store of your choice
- The "buy up to 12 beers in a restaurant and carry out, or buy full cases at beer distributors" part of the policy props up a lot of small breweries- even in large cities elsewhere in the country you can't find a lot of micros by the case.
- If something isn't available through the PLCB, it isn't available at all. Unless you smuggle in your booze from New Jersey (for Philly residents) or Ohio (for Pittsburgh residents). Some wonderful specialty stores such as Moore Brothers just across the bridge in NJ owe their existence to this policy, but residents of central PA are out of luck.
- Liquor store jobs are patronage jobs, and the less of those that exist the better.
- This system seems inexorably tied to really stingy issuance of liquor licenses to restaurants. Which results in lots of places being BYOB, but then you're at the mercy of whatever the closest state store stocks unless you planned ahead.
I think the balance is on the pro side, though.