Tuesday, 24 August 2010

“A bottle store on every corner…”

Announcing yesterday’s package of puritanism, Simon Power-Lust signalled that he will be continuing the attack on small bottle-store owners begun by Helen Clark the very week bottle-store owner Navtej Singh was shot.  One of the three big “improvements” delivered by his reforms, says Simon, is that it “gives communities a say in when and where liquor outlets can open.”  The unspoken announcement being: “We’re going to make it damned hard to get a new license, or renew an existing one.”

This frankly just blames small-business owners for selling to wiling customers.  It’s the same sort of finger-pointing in which several hundred people indulged in Manukau last week, marching on council buildings to complain about what other people are doing. One woman in the rally, who revealed to the interviewer that she had a god on her side (she didn’t reveal which one), complained that in Manukau there is now “a bottle store on every corner.” “That’s not what we want as a community,” she huffed.

Well, I beg to differ.

If there really were a bottle store on every corner (there are 350 bottle stores in Manukau, but many more corners) then that would in fact be a sign that this is precisely what “the community” does want—because the customers of those bottle stores, who come from “the community,” are the very people who are keeping all these bottle stores open, demonstrating as clearly as you can that this is precisely what “the community” does want.

So what the woman should have said was “this is not what I want.” “The community, c’est moi.” But why is her voice more important than any other?  And why should her puritanism give her any power to to tell you and me when and where we can buy a bottle of wine? 

Well, on that one you’ll have to ask Simple Simon. Because in “giving communities a say in when and where liquor outlets can open,” he is simply giving a say to busybodies like this one, and taking it away from the communities themselves. Because like that woman, Simple Simon is completely unaware that communities already are “having a say” in where and when outlets are open—having a say by voting with their wallet every time they make a purchase.  

They’re called customers, Simon. At the end of the day it’s not you or I or anyone else who decides whether or not a bottle store or any other store stays open.  They do: their customers.  And these customers are the community.

Perhaps you should listen to what they’re saying. Because shutting down these small businesses won’t limit demand for alcohol, it will simply change where it’s bought. And meanwhile, as Eric Crampton observes, there are a lot of immigrant families whose businesses are going to be destroyed.



  1. A lot of this "local control" stuff seems thinly disguised racism. Entrepreneurs, often from south Asia or India, come to New Zealand and open a small shoppe to get started. I wonder how many protests there'd be in South Auckland if the bottle shoppes were owned by folks whose ethnic background more closely matched the community's.

  2. It reminds me of that advertisment about 'problem' gambling on telly, where Len whatshisface Brown bangs on about listening to the community. I would use the same arguement PC! Nice one.

  3. I'm so glad the people living next to the bottle store won't get a say, and have to endure the bottle store and their customers.

  4. @Berend de Boer

    Maybe they should buy the store and then start selling knitting needles in it.

  5. Richard McGrath24 Aug 2010, 20:55:00

    Berend, should your neighbours have a say in what sort of outdoor furniture you put in your back yard, what sort of people you invite over, or what colour you paint your house?

    Of course the people next to a bottle store are free to "get a say". They aren't gagged or silenced in any way. As PC has explained, they can vote with their dollar, by refusing to shop in the bottle store and persuade their friends and neighbours to join the boycott.

  6. How about Simon Power think of banning fat food that's available at every supermarket and four-square store around the country to fat-fuck like him.

    I am sure that fat-fuck Simon Power will become slim over time if such ban is in place.

  7. There are two factors behind this. The first is pandering to racism and anti-immigration sentiment in the community. The second is political support and donations from the supermarket duopoly.


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