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The Genie is out of the bottle

Some of the spirits, all made in Pennsylvania, which could be carried at Pennsylvania Libations in Pittsburgh if the store concept and its supplying manufacturers are approved. /CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

If approved, a store being planned in Pittsburgh would be the first privately owned wine and spirits store in Pennsylvania.

If approved, a store being planned in Pittsburgh would be the first privately owned wine and spirits store in Pennsylvania.

And if successful, the store could become a template for similar shops across the state, including in the Greater Lehigh Valley.

Pennsylvania Libations, which is being developed by entrepreneur Christian Simmons, is being planned for Pittsburgh’s busy Strip District, which he said is filled with small mom-and-pop shops with an emphasis on buying local. The idea is for the store to sell spirits and wine from limited distilleries from across the state.

It is being billed as a privately owned wine and spirits store. But Elizabeth Brassell, communications director for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which oversees wine and spirt sales in the state, said the technicalities of the setup of the retail store make it slightly more complicated.

Under PLCB codes, limited wineries and limited spirit distilleries, which produce a lower volume of product than mass producers, can legally set up off-premise sales outlets. They can also designate a manager, who would need separate approvals, to run the operation.

That would, essentially, be the way Pennsylvania Libations would operate.

Brassell said each winery and distiller that would participate needs to be licensed separately and have separate storage and a separate sales point.

“There are many, many layers of approval that are needed,” she said.

Simmons said he is prepared for the various layers of approvals that need to be obtained by multiple participating parties before the shop can open.

So far, only two of the nearly 20 manufacturers interested in Simmons’ store have submitted license applications to the PLCB – a winery and a distiller.

Stacy Wescoe
Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at [email protected] or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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