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Phones ‘Ringing Off the Hook' for Curbside Liquor on 1st Day of Orders

The first round of orders for curbside pickup were accepted Monday and will be fulfilled tomorrow

In this June 25, 2010 photo, shoppers walk past the wine selection offerings from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's self-serve wine kiosk at a Giant food store in Harrisburg, Pa.
Bradley C Bower/Associated Press

The first day of phone orders for curbside pickup from Pennsylvania state liquor stores was a busy one, an official told NBC10 Monday.

Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the stores closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, and they stayed closed for about a month. But last week, workers went back at 106 stores to fulfill online orders.

The first curbside pickups will happen Tuesday morning at the 176 stores in the delivery program. Customers were on the phone Monday placing the first orders, with the workers talking them though the inventory, said Elizabeth Brassell, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB).

Customers were having trouble getting through to the stores to give their orders to the employees on the other line.

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“We know that busy signals will probably continue for the next few days," as the state gets the operation up and running, Brassell said. "Phones have been ringing off the hook all day across the state."

There is no automated process to the curbside orders - each customer gets on the line with an employee walking them through the process, to varying degrees of success.

"It's the first time it's been done, and we're coaching customers through," Brassell said. "Some know what they want right away, some have to be talked through and are on the phone for 15 minutes."

Many of the stores doing curbside pickup are also fulfilling online orders, which have been limited to a certain number per day through randomized access to the site, FineWineandGoodSpirits.com.

The number of orders received at FineWineandGoodSpirits.com was dwarfed by the number of requests to the site.

The liquor store website's April traffic is fast approaching the total of all of fiscal year 2019. In that fiscal year (July 2018 to the end of June 2019) there were 39,000 online orders totaling $5 million. Online order traffic this April, not including Monday, has seen 46,000 online orders totaling $4.4 million.

A news release about the curbside program said stores would accept the first 50 to 100 orders placed each day on a first-come first-served basis, and eventually look to expand the number of stores.

Exact numbers of orders filled Monday were unavailable as they were still coming in.

Customers are limited to six bottles per order per day.

A list of stores offering curbside pickup is below.

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