Beer Wars: Free market only works when capitalists make profits. When profits are in peril, they want government helpThursday, March 10th, 2011
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…
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.