Michigan do you hear your consumers calling: What Peter Criss can teach the State of Michigan!

Peter Criss of Kiss wrote a song called Beth, which acknowledged that he heard his wife’s despair and was dismayed by it. The State of Michigan by contrast is hearing the despair from its consumers and is making sure life gets harder.

Recently the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association (Association), a close ally of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, puffed its chest and bragged about the great decrease in what it deems illegal shipments of wine. According to the Association, it found a 78% drop from supposed illegal alcohol shipping numbers from 2019.

In terms of raw data, the recent year showed according to the Wholesalers, an estimated 160,000 bottles of wine being deemed illegally shipped into Michigan, whereas in 2019, an estimated 734,000 bottles of wine came into the state supposedly illegally.

The Association gave credit to the increased enforcement activity, which includes utilizing the 21st Amendment Enforcement Act against out-of-state retailers shipping wine into the state.

Although the Association and the Liquor Control Commission are busy celebrating, they may be missing a glaring and obvious point. There is a great demand for buying wine and other alcohol online. Obviously, COVID only increased consumer demand, and Michigan retailers may lack the variety of product to meet that demand.

The Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesaler’s president Spenser Nevins noted that “every bottle of alcohol illegally shipped into our state hurts small, independent retailers that are proud to call Michigan home, pay taxes and give back to their communities.”

Mr. Nevins’ statement is not exactly true. What about a bottle of a rare alcohol that can’t be found in Michigan, but is available to a consumer through a retailer in another state? Does the Michigan retailer lose out on a sale it never had, no!

What occurs is the consumer is blocked from accessing the out-of-state retailer that can meet its demand, and the retailer is blocked from selling to a Michigan consumer. This leads to a consumer being unsatisfied and Michigan losing tax revenue. If Michigan would license the out-of-state retailer, it could sell to Michigan consumers and it would pay Michigan taxes.

But more importantly, Michigan and the Wholesalers miss the main point, consumers are shopping online in great numbers and the demand for a greater variety of products is growing. Instead of listening to their consumers and trying to satisfy their demand, Michigan is trying to shut off the supply that meets consumer demand. Further, Michigan is missing the opportunity to gain tax revenue from licensing these out-of-state sellers.

The State and the wholesaler allies can brag all they want about being tough and cracking down, but who they are really hurting are the consumers and the taxpayers.

In the end, I am glad Peter Criss and not the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and Attorney General Dana Nessel wrote the song Beth. A version of Beth written by the MLCC and Nessel would never hear Beth calling and Beth instead of being comforted would be in great despair. Not exactly a great love ballad of empathy!

Maybe it’s time for Michigan to learn a lesson from Peter Criss’ empathy and acknowledge their consumers’ demand! Doing so could turn into a great love song!