State-to-State Variation in Beverage Alcohol Laws
One result of the three-tier system is a lack of uniformity from state to state. There is a broad framework of legislation at the federal level that is interpreted differently by different states. For example, the nationwide prohibition against providing an "inducement to buy" is interpreted variously as no dealer loaders, no cash payoffs or no free goods. In some states, wholesalers must list selling price of each product in advance with state liquor authority, while in others they are free to set their own prices and change them at will.
Other examples of this lack of uniformity include the banning by some states of retail chains, grocery store licenses, beer/tobacco/food sales on same premise as alcohol and/or wine, and in-store tastings of wine and/or alcohol. In some states, all retail operations are controlled by the state. In others print and/or radio and/or TV advertising is illegal, while some legislate minimum and/or maximum pricing to consumer and/or the retailer. Credit
Credit terms are also legislated at the federal level. It is illegal to extend credit longer than 30 days, but application of this law differs from state to state. Some states consider the thirty days to begin at the date of invoice, while others practice cycle billing, where all invoices taken between certain dates must be paid on a specified date. Some states mandate that all alcohol sales are C.O.D. while others have this stipulation only for beer. Franchise
The right of wholesale distribution is a franchise protected by the government in varying degrees from state to state. In states such as New Jersey, it is nearly impossible to change your agent, while in New York it can be done with thirty days notice. In some states, such as Minnesota, this franchise is protected for wine agencies but not spirits. In some states, called control states, distribution is handled by the state monopoly.
State-to-state differences make nationwide operations impractical for many, although consolidation has been a steady influence at all levels, however, and there are examples of large, multi-state distributors with separate organizations in each state. Consolidation has also enabled the creation of many large, multi-state retail operations.
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