How to place a Special Liquor Order (SLO)

Although the Pennsylvania state-owned liquor stores carry only around 750 distilled spirits, there are more than 1,200 additional spirits available by special order. These are listed in the Spirits Product Guide as "SLO" (Special Liquor Order) items, which may be ordered by calling the PLCB Special Purchases Section (800-332-7522, option 1) or stopping by any PLCB store and placing an SLO with the manager on duty. The procedure is as follows:

  1. Tell the PLCB representative, either at the store or on the telephone, your name, address and phone number, and the product codes and quantities of the items you want to order. If you're ordering by phone, you also need to select a PLCB store location where you want to pick up your order when it arrives.
  2. Pay a 50% deposit on the total order value. This can be done using any accepted method of payment at a store, or by credit card over the phone.
  3. Wait until your order arrives in one or two weeks (usually, but it can be as much as six weeks if you order something really weird). The store will call you when your products arrive and you can pick them up. If you ordered in person, you should bring all the paperwork they gave you when you placed the order.
  4. At the store, go to the cashier and tell them you're picking up a "retail SLO" and give them your last name. They'll locate your order and ring up the remaining balance, along with any other items you might want to purchase off the store shelves.
"That's so easy," you say. "There must be a catch!" Of course there is...

SLOs are fulfilled by the various vendors that distribute products to the PLCB. When you place an SLO, if your order contains products that are supplied by different vendors, the sales representative must place a separate SLO to each vendor. For example, if you order a bottle of Oronoco Rum and a bottle of Luxardo Maraschino, you're actually placing one SLO to Diageo for the rum and one SLO to Laird for the maraschino.

This would be irrelevant to us customers except for one detail: vendors are able to specify a minimum quantity of products that you can order at one time. These are listed in the PLCB product catalog. Some vendors, such as Diageo, don't have any minimums. Other vendors, like Capital Wines and Spirits, have a six-item minimum on all SLOs. And some vendors are in the middle, like Laird, who have no minimum on their premium spirits but a twelve-item minimum on their well spirits.

"Forget it!" you say. "I'm not ordering six bottles of something I've never tried before!" Well, wait. It's not that bad.

In most cases, the minimum quantity can be satisfied by ordering a mixed selection of products from the same vendor—rather than buying six bottles of the same item, you can order one bottle each of six different items. If the vendor is large enough, the minimum isn't difficult to meet because they have a wide selection of products available by SLO. So, before you give up hope, take a look through the other products that the vendor carries and see if there's anything else on the list that you want to buy. Click on any vendor name in the guide to see the other products they carry. All vendors are listed in the left sidebar as well.

If that doesn't get you far enough, contact the vendor directly and explain your situation. You may find out that their minimum order policy is actually more lenient than the PLCB's records indicate. Don't expect vendors to bend the rules for you, though. Filling SLOs isn't cheap for them, and they specified a minimum quantity for a reason.

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