The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) decided on Feb. 28 to ban all Russian-made products from Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores across Pennsylvania to show support for Ukraine.
Fine Wine & Good Spirits is a state-wide chain of liquor stores operated by the PLCB.
The decision to ban Russian-made products comes as a reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war between the two countries has been ongoing since Feb. 24, causing many U.S. industries and businesses to cut ties with Russian suppliers.
Governor Tom Wolf sent a letter to the PLCB on Feb. 27, requesting they remove Russian-made products from Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores as soon as possible. Wolf has publicly stated that Pennsylvania supports Ukraine and will continue to take action against Russia.
“The people of Ukraine have shown immense courage and bravery, which should have never been necessary,” Wolf said in a press conference on March 7. “Pennsylvania stands with Ukraine. I will do everything in my power to ensure Pennsylvania’s support of Ukraine and also sever ties with Russia.”
States including New Hampshire, Ohio and Utah have also ceased sales of Russian-made products in state-run liquor stores to show support for Ukraine.
Shawn Kelly, press secretary for the PLCB, said the decision to remove Russian products from PLCB stores will not greatly impact their businesses across the state.
PLCB stores only regularly carry two types of imported Russian alcohol that were banned: Russian Standard Vodka and Ustianochka Vodka.
“I think a few things need to be put in perspective first,” Kelly said. “In the last 52 weeks, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has sold about $1.7 billion worth of spirits. In the same time period, we sold just about $1.1 million worth of Russian-made products.”
Sales of these Russian-made products account for just 0.06 percent of the PLCB’s total yearly sales. Kelly said he expects those who are looking to purchase the Russian-made vodkas to explore other brands.
Harjaap (Jaap) Chatha, an employee at Tally Ho Tavern in Bethlehem, said the decision by the PLCB has not affected the products that Tally Ho carries.
Chatha said establishments that serve alcohol in the area have options other than the banned Russian liquors.
“The move seems a symbolic gesture more than anything,” Chatha said. “I don’t disagree with it, but I’m not sure it’s really going to affect any licensees in Pennsylvania or state store revenue for that matter.”
Ryan Loftus, ‘22, a former buyer of Russian Standard Vodka, said this decision has impacted what she buys at PLCB-run stores.
“Switching from Russian Standard Vodka to other brands hasn’t been difficult for me,” Loftus said. “I don’t notice much of a difference between brands of vodka, and non-imported brands tend to be cheaper.”
Loftus said while she did enjoy the Russian brands, it is important to remember what is going on in the world when making a decision to purchase products.