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Chambersburg beer store succumbs to change in liquor law

Written by Ashley Books/The Public Opinion | Jul 5, 2018 9:44 AM
Good Ta Go beer store.jpg

Good-Ta-Go, which is described as a casual tap room and carryout beer establishment at 1640 Orchard Drive, Chambersburg, plans to close the store after July 8. (Photo: Markell DeLoatch, Public Opinion)

(Chambersburg) -- After eight years of providing customers with hundreds of beer options, a change in a liquor law is causing Good-Ta-Go to permanently close up shop. 

"The beer lover's store" located on Orchard Drive in Chambersburg is a casual tap room and carry-out business that specializes in craft beer, according to the company's website. 

Despite offering patrons more than 500 varieties of beer, owner Mike Hennessy has seen a significant decrease in sales and is now competing with beer distributors after a law change in January 2017 that allows state residents to purchase six-packs of beer directly from distributors. Previously, they could only sell cases and 12-packs. 

Hennessy foresaw what the new legislation would do to his business. He previously told the Public Opinion that it would "impact us significantly, because distributors can now sell down to a bottle and they buy their beer for less money. This doesn't expand the amount of beer that's around, it just shrinks the pie for us."

Since the new law went into effect, Good-Ta-Go has lost 50 percent of its gross sales, Hennessy said. He added it also created a "non-level playing field in favor of the distributors," because they aren't subject to the same guidelines as Good-Ta-Go is. 

The owner mentioned the state requires him to serve food, so he has to handle the health department and have restrooms on the property. In addition, distributors buy their beer for less money than he does, and they are also usually based in a warehouse which means their rent is cheaper, Hennessy added.  

"I have a problem with somebody that competes directly with me and has different rules," he said. 

But distributors aren't the only ones taking a slice of the beer pie. Other establishments have popped up in the area, including GearHouse Brewing Co. which sells craft beer and opened within the past year, and chains adding beer to their inventory. 

In fact, a Rutter's near Good-Ta-Go on South Main Street recently opened a "beer cave," which provides patrons with different types of domestic, imported and craft beers and ciders. A Sheetz on Monticello Court also now offers single servings, as well as 12- and six-packs of beer and malt beverages. 

However, Hennessy said these additions have not affected his business. According to him, his sales have actually increased slightly since the Rutter's beer cave opened up. 

Unlike the distributors, though, all of these establishments have to follow the same rules as Good-Ta-Go -- so it's fair competition. 

Although he's thought about closing for a year and a half, the owner put up a fight to keep the beer store alive. He said he tried to recoup some of the sales losses by adding new cooking equipment to expand his food menu. 

"The last thing I want to be in is the restaurant business, but I gave that a shot," Hennessy continued. 

But, the investments weren't enough to bring the business back. 

The store will officially close on Sunday, and Hennessy said he may start discounting beer after the Fourth of July. He also plans to sell his liquor license. 

John Ardans, a customer who was at the store Tuesday afternoon, said the beer store isn't like a typical bar.

"This is like the place to hang out," he said. 

Ardans mentioned how it is a great place to socialize and to do business. It is also more like a family establishment to him. He said he used to come with his daughter every Saturday and enjoy a pretzel with her. 

"We won't be able to do that anymore," Ardans added. 

For more information on Good-Ta-Go, visit its website at good-ta-go.com

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The Public Opinion.

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