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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvania's supermarket owners are clamoring to put state-owned liquor stores within their walls, and as many as seven markets will get their wish by early next year, the Associated Press reports.
Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (LCB) chairman Jonathan Newman said he expects six or seven supermarkets to have the state stores and that most of the interest has come from supermarkets in the Pittsburgh and greater Philadelphia areas.
It's even possible that some of the stores could open by November or December -- in time for the holiday spirits season -- although Newman said that remains a long shot.
"It takes a long time logistically to sign the lease, to advertise it, to get the store up and running, to reconfigure" the supermarket's interior, Newman said Friday.
Newman said the LCB needs about 2,500 to 3,000 square feet within a supermarket for each liquor and wine store. Customers will pay for their liquor purchases separately, at cash registers within the state stores, which will be operated by LCB -- not supermarket -- employees.
"I think you're going to see some leases signed this year and some stores open in early 2004," Newman said.
Putting liquor and wine in supermarkets is just one of several changes Newman, a Philadelphia-area attorney, is making in an attempt to boost liquor sales in the state.
Statistics show that Pennsylvania tends to lose liquor and wine sales to neighboring states because the state store system has made it inconvenient to buy spirits, Newman said.