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Drink Tank

How to privatize liquor sales



Recently, consultants hired to propose private alternatives to the state-owned liquor stores suggested situating bottle shops next to grocery stores. Accidental governor and former Realtor Gary Herbert was said to be unhappy with the suggestion and tasked his own people to come up with better ideas on how to get the government out of the booze business, despite the fact that it has brought in millions of dollars to the state, as well as providing extra income to corrupt public officials.

Governor Herbert, recently voted the Sexiest Mormon on Earth, gave a pep talk urging his team to put on their thinking caps and think outside the box with regard to privatizing the liquor business in the state of Utah. Team members first had to scramble to come up with the aforementioned thinking caps, which had been gathering dust in a storeroom for several decades, apparently since the administration of George Dewey Clyde. Then, with caps firmly in place (several team members complained of headaches), Herbert’s people went in search of boxes to think outside of.

They made the rounds of existing state liquor stores and gathered a sufficient number of boxes (Smirnoff, Jack Daniels, Bombay) to think outside of, and came up with seven highly effective ways to privatize the liquor business.

1. Remember Ice Cream Trucks—the faintly heard happy music growing like a martini buzz until it rounded your corner and sucked all the kiddies out into the street? The Outside the Boxers came up with the catchy name of the Happy Hour. Knowing that many citizens would be offended by the booze truck cruising their neighborhoods, the Outside the Boxers recommended draping the vehicle with an opaque waterproof curtain of some sort. Customers would not be allowed to hop on the Happy Hour because of the danger of imbibing too many shots and falling off the wagon.

2. Door-to-door sales. You can sell vacuum cleaners and magazine subscriptions door to door, so why not adult beverages? This would be more convenient for customers who, owing to hearing loss, might not be alerted to the arrival of the Happy Hour wagons, and for senior citizens and/or invalids not nimble enough to get outside for a Happy Hour purchase. Door-to-door sales would be particularly efficient in periods of inclement weather.

3. Direct marketing. Tupperware parties were hugely popular and successful in the postwar period. Many products have been hawked following the Tupperware model, including lingerie, sex toys and home survival kits. In today’s tough economy, selling booze in the comfort of your own home was an idea the Outside the Boxers unanimously agreed was a fine way to add to your bank account, in addition to achieving a warm glow of personal satisfaction. In the words of one team member, “If you can sit on your sofa and sell rubber penises, why can’t you perch on a kitchen stool and serve white Russians or lime rickeys?”

4. Fast-booze drive-thrus. This would be the sort of job-creating business that all Americans would stand up and cheer for without spilling their drinks. Besides providing jobs for window clerks and drink-preparation workers, drive-thrus would be able to employ an entire army of temporary designated drivers.

5. Adult-beverage concession at the local cineplex. This is a venue that the Outside the Boxers were very excited about. Beer would be a popular drink, owing to the high sodium content of popcorn and soggy pizza. Sweet dessert drinks would nicely complement the various candies.

6. Multilevel-marketing, Ponzi-type schemes. The Outside the Boxers were fully behind this suggestion and, in fact, have already put in their dibs on being the first in line to develop such schemes. These schemes are particularly popular in Utah for peddling such products as beauty creams, health drinks and snake oil. “At least with booze multilevel schemes, buyers would be getting some value for their money,” said one Outside the Boxer. “And instead of being stuck with cases and cases of unsold products in your basement, you would have a comfortable supply of beverages for a bad night or the end of the world.”

7. Bottle shops contiguous to ward houses. Customers would have a choice of fortifying their spirits in either of two ways. This proposal was backed by ecclesiastical authorities as a highly effective method of dissuading secret drinkers, who are presently able to buy their booze with a fair amount of discretion, from feeding their habit.

D.P. Sorensen writes a satire column for City Weekly.