Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona

Beer Wars: Free market only works when capitalists make profits. When profits are in peril, they want government help

Cold beer on a hot day. (Photo Credit: Green Living Network)

Tucson’s weather has been absolutely gorgeous lately, but we all know what’s coming in a few short months… summer!

One of the hallmarks of springtime in Tucson is the 4th Avenue Street Fair. Life is good when you can take a lazy stroll down 4th Ave. with a cold brewski in your hand.

Now a group of whiny bar-owners on 4th Ave. want to take that cold brewski from your sweaty hand, and they have solicited the help of “business friendly” Councilman Steve Kozachik to do it.

According an article in this week’s Tucson Weekly, some 4th Ave. bar owners– led by Scott Cummings who owns O’Malley’s on Fourth– want the Fourth Avenue Merchants’ Association (FAMA) to restrict or stop beer sales at the Street Fair.

As a small businessman, Cummings is a capitalist. Capitalists believe in the free market– right? Wrong. They only believe in competition on the free market when they’re making money. When there is a threat to their profits, they want government intervention or laws that restrict others from making profits.

Cummings, Jill Brammer (from Che’s), and the other whiny bar owners should man up like real capitalists and see the beer booths as a marketing opportunity– rather than competition that should be squashed by regulations.

What marketing advantages do the bars have over the beer booths? Here are some hints…

  1. The beer booths generally sell crappy beer and have no variety. Most of the 4th Ave. bars go way beyond Budweiser and offer dozens of beers.
  2. The beer booths sell only beer– leaving the wine and alcohol drinkers high and dry– or not high but definitely dry. (Of course, not all 4th Ave. bars have discovered wine yet; some have seriously poor wine selections.)
  3. When you’re walking around the spring Street Fair, you can get hot, tired, and hungry. The bars have seats and air conditioning, and a few of them actually sell real food.
  4. The music at the Street Fair can be spotty at best. Bars can hire some of Tucson’s best bands to attract customers inside. (A few years ago, Che’s had legendary Tucson bluesman Tom Whalbank playing there during the Street Fair. The place was packed.)

So, 4th Ave. bar owners, rather than look to government intervention or ask FAMA to change a Street Fair model that has been working for years– use a little marketing know-how to set your product apart. The question for Koz is: Which group of businesses are you going to be friendly to? Or what about if everyone involved decided to be consumer friendly? Consumers want choice, quality products, and a good price.

5 comments on “Beer Wars: Free market only works when capitalists make profits. When profits are in peril, they want government help

  1. Pingback: Beer Wars: Free market only works when capitalists make profits. When profits … – Tucson Citizen | The Write Article

  2. Emmitt Hollin
    March 14, 2011

    I think you bring up some excellent points in favor or having beer sales at the fair. I can’t believe that the sales the bars could lose could make a big difference in their overall financial success.  I would think a bar having a sign in the window pointing out those pluses (i.e., sit down, enjoy the AC, microbrews!) would bring them plenty of extra business.


  3. Martha Retallick
    March 14, 2011

    I’d like to cast a vote in favor of the beer cooler at the Food Conspiracy C0-op. It has a wide variety of interesting beers from all over. And you can buy to take out and enjoy *after* you get home from the Street Fair.
    Please don’t drink and drive.


  4. sethers
    March 14, 2011

    It would make much more sense for the bars to solicit Kav’s help in allowing customers to leave their locations with beer/drink in hand during the fair hours. Then customers could get all the good beer/wine/spirits they desire from either booth or bar and real competition could ensue.


  5. Pingback: Local businesses use ‘me me me’ squeaky wheel technique to pressure City Council - Tucson Progressive

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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela Powers Hannley

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals--not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election. My platform focuses on economic reforms to grow Arizona's economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, growlocal small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs. I also stand for equal rights, choice, and paycheck fairness for women. I am running as a progressive and running clean.

My day job is managing editor for the American Journal of Medicine, an academic medicine journal with a worldwide circulation. In addition, my husband and I co-direct Arizonans for a New Economy, Arizona's public banking initiative. I am a member of the national board of the Public Banking Institute, and I am co-chair of the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party.

I am a published author, photographer, videographer, clay artist, mother, nana, and wife. I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a masters in public health from the University of Arizona. I grew up in Amherst, Ohio, but I have lived in Tucson, Arizona since 1981. I am a proud member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson and the Public Relations Society of America.

My Tucson Progressive blog and Facebook page feature large doses of liberal ideas, local, state, and national politics, and random bits of humor. I also blog at Blog for Arizona and the Huffington Post.

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