I was doing a little research this morning and discovered a major improvement for consumers from Ohio’s Division of Liquor Control. Ohio is an agency state, meaning that the government itself is the sole wholesaler of liquor statewide. About the only thing I find great about this arrangement is that it makes it easy to determine whether or not a particular booze product is available here, you simply check with the state.
The ODLC’s website has for years maintained an online listing of those products that the state has deigned to offer its drinking populace. This always used to be in the form of a gigantic, single webpage consisting of columns of non-proportional type with every single product the state carried. It was clearly a text dump from some mainframe, and one that had never heard of rational sorting of data. It was a ugly, and unfriendly, but so long as you were part of the computer cognoscenti with the mad skilz to wield CTRL-F, you could find out pretty quickly if you could buy a bottle of whatever you were interested somewhere in state, and how much you’d pay for it.
Well, as of some time very recently, the function of the ODLC’s website has changed dramatically, and for the better. Rather than a straight data dump, they now provide consumers with a nicely, though not perfectly, functional search engine. At it’s simplest, you can enter a brand name and if any results come back, you know the brand is available in Ohio. While most stuff sold here is sold most everywhere here, this isn’t always the case. You can narrow your search by zip code, city, or county, and the website will list which state agents currently have the product on their buy list. Many stores return a lot more labels than I think they could possibly hold, so I think this is an authorized list, rather than inventory on hand. As an example, the website still lists seven stores in Ohio that supposedly stock Lemon Hart 80. Either it’s out of date, or Rumdood will be racing TikiGeeki and a host of collectors to book flights to Ashtabula…. With this cautionary tale in mind, you can also just search for the stores near you, then search that store’s inventory.
There is also more information about each bottle now. In addition to the retail price, you will now find wholesale info, as well as phone numbers for the store and a Google Maps link to the location.
The system still isn’t perfect. For instance, if you just want to search for OYO Vodka you will get 260 entries in the database. There aren’t 260 different products from Middle West Spirits, that is a separate entry for each store that has the one product on their list. It’s pretty darned cluttered results. You can narrow the search of course, but it still isn’t a friendly as it ought to be for the non-database-knowledgeable crowd.
All in all, it is a nice upgrade to the customer service the State is providing. I have my doubts about Governor Kasich’s project to sorta privatize the state’s liquor distribution (sorta privatizing is like sorta impregnating), but I’ll save those for another day. If this upgrade is in response to or anticipation of this whatever it is, good on it. Let’s hope there will be more such improvements for Ohio liquor consumers.