Blairstown, New Jersey - There has been a lot of talk about how privatizing liquor sales could impact Pennsylvania's state budget. And that has lead to conversations about how people drive to neighboring states to buy alcohol.
Many believe wine and liquor are cheaper in New Jersey. But Eyewitness News learned that's not necessarily true.
Eyewitness News compared prices at JD's Wine & Liquor in Blairstown, New Jersey to the Pennsylvania State Store on Main Street in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Prices were dramatically different.
Here are some examples:
$17.99 (On sale for $15.99)
Large Jack Daniels
Patron Yellow Tequila
Santa Margehrita Pino Grigo
Fezter Cabernet Sauvignon
Despite the price differences, Pennsylvanians continue to buy wine and spirits in New Jersey. Staffers at JD's Wine & Liquor believe there are several reasons. The first is selection.
The New Jersey store had a larger selection of wine and liquor. There were many items Eyewitness News found in New Jersey that were not available in the Pennsylvania store. They included Cristal Champagne ($264.00), Entwine Merlot ($12.99), Castries Peanut Rum ($28.99), and Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon ($147.99). In Pennsylvania you might be able to find them at a Premium Selection Store or by special order.
New Jersey stores also have freedom to set their own hours. Karen Iacobellis of JD's noted, "We're open 365 days a year. Staffer Rich Vininski added, "Sunday afternoon we get a lot of phone calls from people in Pennsylvania, are you open?"
New Jersey also offers one-stop-shopping convenience. Garden State businesses can sell wine, liquor, and beer in the same building. Vininski added, "They don't have to buy a case. They could buy a six pack, whatever they want to do."
In addition, some say employees at privately owned stores are friendlier. Iacobellis said, "We are a family type store and we know a lot of our customers by their first name and vice versa." Many believe private employees are also more knowledgeable. Eyewitness News found the staff at the New Jersey store knew much more about products than the clerk at the Pennsylvania store.
This survey only examined wine and spirit prices. The workers at JD's said beer is less expensive in New Jersey.
It is illegal to transport alcohol from New Jersey into Pennsylvania but police rarely enforce that law.