Only licensed vendors may purchase alcohol from wholesale distributors. Examples of vendors include bars, clubs, restaurants and liquor stores. Wholesale distributors are the second tier on a three-tier system for the sale of alcohol.
After Prohibition most states put into place a three-tier system for the purchasing and distributing of alcohol. The goal of the three-tier system is to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors and help prevent the excessive consumption of alcohol that resulted in the Prohibition of the 1920s. In many states there are exceptions to the three-tier rule. For example, some breweries may sell their in-house brewed beer directly to patrons. Many wineries also have wine available for purchase on-site.