How does Virginia ABC distribute limited availability products?
While we are unable to control the number of bottles that spirits manufacturers and suppliers send to Virginia, we can address retail inequities by changing how we distribute these products once we receive them. To provide all customers with the greatest opportunity to purchase these highly sought products, ABC will announce the store locations where limited availability products are available to purchase during store hours on any given day of the week. The timing and store locations will be random to discourage individuals from lining up outside stores for extended periods or seeking information that gives them an unfair advantage, enabling them to purchase these items ahead of other customers.
Will ABC continue to distribute products via lottery?
Yes. We will continue to distribute the rare and higher-demand products (ex. Pappy Van Winkle) via online lottery. The random distribution of products in stores is reserved for limited availability products. It is possible to see a lottery product offered for sale at a store’s limited availability event. If a lottery bottle remains unclaimed at the store after a period of 10 days from the time the lottery winner was notified of shipment to the store, that bottle will be retained in the store’s stockroom until their next authorized in-store limited availability event.
How is ABC notifying customers that limited availability products are available for purchase?
Customers interested in purchasing limited availability products are encouraged to sign up for the Spirited Virginia e-newsletter, like the Spirited Virginia Facebook page and/or follow Spirited Virginia on Instagram. Virginia ABC will issue an announcement about the location of limited availability products only from these accounts. We recommend customers follow all these accounts.
Sometimes I get the Spirited Virginia email notification a few minutes after the Facebook and Instagram posts. Why the delay?
Virginia ABC uses an online email marketing platform to issue these notifications to the 130,000+ Spirited Virginia e-newsletter subscribers. The time you receive the email may vary depending on your email server and network capabilities.
Can I find out ahead of time when and where these products will be available for purchase?
No. Stores will receive limited availability products as part of their normal shipment, but the inventory will not show on ABC’s website and store associates will be unable to sell the products until they are notified to make the products available for in-store purchase. ABC will notify customers as to the locations once those stores have been authorized to sell the products.
How do I view store inventory for limited availability products on ABC’s website?
Inventory of these high-demand, limited supply products will not be visible on ABC’s website. Store personnel may give information over the phone once these products are available for purchase.
Can I call the store and ask them to hold a bottle for me?
No. Store associates will sell these products to in-store customers only in the order that they arrive. Under no circumstance will they be permitted to hold product for any customer at any time.
Is there a limit to the number of bottles I can purchase?
Yes. To make these highly sought spirits available to as many customers as possible, store purchases will be restricted to one bottle per customer per day from all the limited availability products offered in any location. Virginia ABC will randomly authorize specified stores to sell the products they have available. ABC cannot guarantee that there will be enough of these products for all customers.
Will all stores receive limited availability products?
Our goal is for every store to receive an allotment of limited availability products. However, due to the limited supply available to ABC, all stores will not have products to sell at the same time. We use a random selection process when choosing stores for each distribution that is based on available store inventory each day. In many areas of the state, there are multiple ABC stores in one city. As a result, some cities will be listed multiple times in a limited availability notification, but they are in different areas of that city. It is possible for a store to appear on the distribution list one week and make the list again on another week because they recently received more inventory.
Why do some stores receive more products per limited availability event than others?
The number of products available for each store depends on the store’s sales. Higher volume stores have more local customers and would receive more products than a store with fewer customers, on average.
Can I purchase limited availability products through ABC’s special order process?
No. Limited availability products are only available for in-store purchase and are not available for order through the Virginia ABC special order process.
Can I purchase limited availability products online?
No. Limited availability products are only available for in-store purchase.
Is there a limit to how long a store will have the product(s) available for purchase?
This depends on how quickly customers purchase the products. Items available for purchase in a store will continue to be on the shelf until all inventory is exhausted at that location.
Can licensees purchase limited availability products?
Through a separate process, licensees in good standing with mixed beverage privilege have the opportunity to purchase limited availability products through the Licensee Limited Availability Lottery. Licensees will have their own allocation of products (20%, like ABC lotteries) separate from store customers. Licensees should visit the licensee ordering portal (MIPS) for more information about this program.
Do I have to be a Virginia resident to purchase limited availability products?
What prompted ABC to change how limited availability products are distributed?
ABC’s goal in distributing limited supply products has always been to provide all customers with the greatest opportunity to purchase them. We are constantly listening to customer feedback and adjusting our practices when possible to benefit the majority of customers. We know that customers in all regions of the commonwealth want an equal opportunity to get these highly sought-after spirits. We also know that individuals who stood to benefit from obtaining the locations of these products ahead of time were using that information unfairly to mobilize and purchase items before other customers. By randomly deciding where and when to offer these products for purchase, we limit possibilities for individuals or groups to abuse the system.
Wouldn’t it be better to distribute these products in stores on a specified day of the week or month?
Our goal with this random distribution process is to discourage individuals from lining up outside stores for extended periods. Providing a pre-determined day of the week or month that customers could purchase these products in stores would encourage that behavior, which also creates an unfair advantage for customers who are able to “camp” outside of stores hours before the distribution time.
Why doesn’t ABC place these products unannounced on the shelves as soon as they are delivered to the stores?
Unfortunately, when ABC initially tried this distribution option, customers who knew the delivery truck days for stores would wait for the items to be placed on the shelves, then make their purchase ahead of other customers. Sometimes customers would follow the delivery trucks to each store and purchase bottles along the truck’s route. The random distribution method reduces the possibility that some customers will have an unfair advantage.
What about limiting how often someone can buy these products by scanning the customer’s ID and denying the purchase if they reach the limit?
Store associates scan a customer’s ID only to verify that they are 21 or older. Virginia ABC does not collect customer information when an ID is scanned. Customers purchase products from ABC stores without having their identity and purchase habits captured in a database.
How does ABC determine a product for distribution via limited availability versus lottery?
We make decisions about the distribution method used for products on a case-by-case basis. Factors that will be considered in this decision include prior sales history of the product (if it’s a product that’s been sold previously), expected demand for the product and the number of bottles the manufacturer or supplier provided to Virginia ABC. Extremely rare and higher demand products are often distributed via lottery.