Update, Sept. 28: In a statement issued Thursday morning, the PLCB said it aims to reopen most Philadelphia stores by 6 p.m. today, but some locations will still “require days or weeks to secure and repair.” Nine stores will be closed until further notice; find a list at the end of this story.
It’s unclear when liquor stores in Philadelphia will reopen after the agency closed all 48 city locations following a night of unrest, officials with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board said.
Fine Wines & Good Spirits stores across Philly were closed Wednesday after at least 18 of them were broken into by crowds of people Tuesday night, and officials say the theft and destruction continued into the wee hours of the morning.
The extent of damage and stolen goods is still unclear, as is when they can expect to resume operations, per LCB spokesperson Shawn Kelly.
“Some of the reports that I’ve heard from our stores — the word destroyed was used,” Kelly told Billy Penn. “I think some of our stores are in pretty bad shape after the Tuesday night incidents.”
State liquor stores have collectively closed before in the face of extreme weather events, Kelly said, but Wednesday’s announcement is the first time he could recall all of Philly’s stores shutting down due to unrest or criminal behaviors.
It’s too early to accurately calculate the financial toll of the break-ins, Kelly explained. Maintenance teams will be sent to stores, which are all leased, and there’s still the matter of insurance over property damage and loss. “It may be a while before we find out exactly what the full extent of the damage is.”
What about lost sales at the stores, which brought in a record $3 billion gross to state coffers from 2021-22? Hard to estimate, Kelly said, but Wednesdays are not usually the busiest day.
That meant there weren’t too many confused would-be customers, some of whom showed up at locations that didn’t sustain damage to find no signage explaining the closure.
The decision to shutter locations across the city was made after LCB regional managers began receiving calls from Philadelphia stores about the break-ins. Some of the employees, he said, were onsite when it began.
“We’re very fortunate that no one was hurt,” Kelly said, estimating a couple hundred employees were affected by the incident.
Videos showing some of the destruction circulated on social media, including at least one person who reportedly livestreamed themselves during chaos at a Wine & Spirits location — and was subsequently arrested.
The break-ins came as unrest swept the city on Tuesday night, leading to over 50 arrests, per The Inquirer, with most people between 18 and 22 years old.
Some actions were reportedly planned in advance on social media after news spread that a judge had dropped charges earlier against the Philly police officer who shot and killed Eddie Irizarry last month. A peaceful protest, gathered at City Hall on Tuesday afternoon, dispersed shortly before vandalism began to be reported around the city.
Acting Police Commissioner John Stanford, who took office last Friday, sought to put distance between protestors and perpetrators of the night’s vandalism.
“This had nothing to do with the protests,” Stanford told media outlets. “What we had tonight was a bunch of criminal opportunists take advantage of a situation and try to destroy our city.”
A key concern for the LCB moving forward is ensuring the safety of employees traveling back and forth from their stores, he said — which is one reason it’s unclear how soon the liquor stores will be back in business.
“We’re also hoping it’s a quiet night in Philadelphia,” said Kelly, the LCB spokesperson, explaining that a decision will be made Thursday morning as to what stores, if any, can reopen.
The following nine stores will be closed until further notice:
• 3250 N. Broad St. (North Philadelphia)
• 4229 N Broad St. (North Philadelphia)
• 2115 N 22nd St. (Northwest Philadelphia)
• Roosevelt Plaza, 6577 Roosevelt Blvd. (Northeast Philadelphia)
• The Shops at Brewerytown, 3101 W. Girard Ave. (Brewerytown)
• 5159 Lancaster Ave. (West Philadelphia)
• 4906-4908 Baltimore Ave. (West Philadelphia)
• Erie Plaza, 3772 L St. (Juniata)
• Adams & Tabor Center, 730 Adams Ave. (Lawncrest)