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Demand for curbside booze means long waits for some

Randy Rizzuto was hoping to placing her alcohol order through the state-owned liquor system but couldn’t get past the busy signal to do it.

The Springettsbury Township resident said she tried to get through for curbside pickup on April 20 to no avail. She tried again  the following day, with the same result.

“So now I’m going to Giant,” Rizzuto said.

There are still some kinks to work out in the new curbside delivery system, put in place last week, about a month after Gov. Tom Wolf closed all state liquor stores to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

In the coming days and weeks, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board plans to further expand curbside delivery and capacity, according to board spokesman Shawn Kelly.

“We’re getting better every day,” he said, adding that he hopes customers can work with them in the interim.

The Wolf administration announced  April 18 that select stores would reopen for curbside service.

Even before then, the board had been fielding increased calls, Kelly said.

“We understand that the capacity that we have right now will not match 600 stores being open, but we are doing our best to increase capacity every day, and we ask that our customers be patient,” he said.

Since curbside deliveries launched, daily phone orders have increased by thousands a day, with more than 11,000 orders Wednesday, Kelly said. The volume of online orders statewide is already 50% higher than an entire average year's worth of sales, he said. 

To handle the uptick, Kelly said the board has gone from one e-commerce fulfillment center to more than 120 locations, including some local stores.

Purchases are delivered curbside at Fine Wine & Good Spirits Premium Collection in Springettsbury Township, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

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On Tuesday, Kayle Fry, of Manchester Township, walked up to the store in Springettsbury Township and was met by a masked employee who confirmed his scheduled pick up time and verified his identification.

“We were going down to Maryland until they quit letting us down there,” he said.

When curbside pickup became available April 20, Fry and his co-workers began calling to place their orders but weren’t getting through. They decided to order as a team; when one of them got through, they placed everyone's  order.

“Yesterday, we all tried to call in, and I put an auto-dialer on my phone and just left it lay on my toolbox for about an hour,” Fry said. “It just kept calling back every five seconds until it got through.”

Beginning Monday, there will be an additional 389 locations opening for curbside pickup, raising the total to 565 outlets, while expanding hours during which phone orders  will be accepted. 

For more information, go to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board website at: https://www.lcb.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx.