Only three companies can distribute liquor in Michigan. One of them is having critical software issues.

By Mike Pomranz
November 12, 2019

If you live in Michigan, you may want to ask family members visiting from elsewhere to bring booze this Thanksgiving. The state is reportedly suffering from a liquor shortage, and it may be "several weeks" before things return to normal.

The problem stems from the Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC)—one of just three companies authorized to distribute liquor in Michigan, working as a middleman between spirits producers and all retail outlets, whether its bars, restaurants, or shops. According to the Detroit Free Press, the distributor recently moved into a new warehouse where they've been plagued by software issues that have hampered deliveries, slowing orders across the state by two to five days.

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"We apologize for these delays. They are not acceptable. We are working as quickly as possible to resolve the issues that are causing them, but it may be several weeks before customers regain their normal high levels of service," Steve Rochow, the Michigan state executive vice president for RNDC, said in a statement provided to WOOD TV. "We are entirely focused on fixing our issues to meet customers' needs."

The problem is so bad even the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) stepped in, asking RNDC to "implement a corrective plan of action that will immediately address liquor licensee complaints regarding delivery issues, stock shortages, and lack of customer service that are negatively impacting their businesses," according to a statement issued on Friday. "We are holding RNDC accountable on how they plan to fix this situation for our licensees," MLCC Chair Pat Gagliardi said. "It's our priority to ensure our licensees have their shelves stocked for the public, especially in advance of the holiday season."

And as the MLCC later points out, this issue is about more than just keeping consumers happy: "Any downturn in retail spirit sales due to unstocked shelves also impacts the State's bottom line as the sole wholesaler of spirits," the commission's statement mentions. In other words, don't mess with the government's money!

Still, both businesses and consumers are being impacted, too. Kyle Dobrowolski, the general manager at O'Toole's Public House in Grand Rapids, told WOOD TV that their bar missed its Friday delivery without any warning. As a result, they were short over half their stock for the weekend, causing them to run out of important options like well vodka. "It really hurts us and hurts our guests," Dobrowolski was quoted as saying.

I'd suggest having a drink, but that would only make matters worse.

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