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Liquor Privatization in Washington

kaleokahu Jun 10, 2012 02:45 PM

Just curious how the new private liquor regime is playing in the non-Seattle areas of the state.

What is selection like? Prices up or down? Are you driving farther to find and/or get what you want? Are you happy with privatization so far?


  1. jonoropeza Jul 20, 2012 03:16 PM

    Went to BevMo in Silverdale today, first time since the new regs took effect.

    Bought a liter of vodka, liter of whiskey, bottle of white wine.

    $45.47 + $20.20 sales and spirits tax = 44% tax rate.


    2 Replies
    1. re: jonoropeza
      kaleokahu Jul 20, 2012 04:54 PM

      What total would you have paid before privatization?

      1. re: kaleokahu
        RetiredChef Jul 27, 2012 02:38 PM

        Prices are up across the board due to higher taxes but you have the convenience of buying at the grocery store. The increase is just under a dollar for every 10 dollars you spend, so if you buy 100 dollars of booze before the privatization will cost you about $ 110 now.

        Personally I head to Idaho (30 mins away) and buy in bulk every couple of months. The store right across the border off of I-90 is supposed to be one of the highest volume stores in Idaho, thanks to the egregious WA liquor tax and they say sales are up since privatization.

        However we were all told that liquor would be more expensive and taxed higher if we privatized - the citizens voted for it and now we got.

    2. s
      sedimental Jul 8, 2012 11:00 PM

      Wow. The LCB is cracking down on bar owners that might be making "California runs", that is, buying liquor in CA at half the price and bringing it back up to WA to sell. Mostly, it started to sell at their bars for a bigger profit, but has now morphed into selling to favorite customers at a deep discount.Basically, we have now created a black market fr booze.

      Interesting to watch this unfold.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sedimental
        kaleokahu Jul 12, 2012 04:31 PM

        Hi, sedimental:

        I'm pretty sure it would be prosecutable as felony tax evasion.

        As would making their buys at the Reservation liquor stores.


        1. re: kaleokahu
          sedimental Jul 12, 2012 07:20 PM

          Yes, it is pretty serious stuff. "Unintended consequences" I guess. Of the three bar owners I know of that received "the call"....all were pretty scared by it, although they did nothing wrong.

      2. k
        kav23 Jul 1, 2012 11:28 PM

        I visited Costco in Bellingham about a week after the new liquor laws came into effect. Is it just me, or did Costco design the Kirkland tequila and vodka bottles to look similar to those of Patron and Grey Goose?

        4 Replies
        1. re: kav23
          kaleokahu Jul 2, 2012 11:15 AM

          Yes, you're going to take what you get, and like it. They PAID for the privatization, you only voted.

          1. re: kav23
            Steve K Jul 2, 2012 01:40 PM

            Don't know about the tequila, but the Costco vodka IS Grey Goose.

            1. re: Steve K
              L.Nightshade Jul 2, 2012 06:54 PM

              How do you know that? I thought that it might be Grey Goose. Is there some list somewhere that shows what brand names Costco sells under their own label?

              1. re: L.Nightshade
                Steve K Jul 4, 2012 09:14 AM

                (1) There are a couple of threads in the Spirits section of Chowhounds, and those who profess to have specific knowledge say that it's GG.

                (2) A couple of friends who are vodka snobs swear that it's GG.

                Other than that, I overstated "IS" in my response. Wish there was such a list.....

          2. l
            leavenworthgal Jun 26, 2012 06:36 PM

            Hi, I don't buy a lot nor did I write down prices but our new store here is great and is much bigger and better by the same people in Leavenworth. Easier to get to right on Hwy 2. Also we can get at Safeway and Dan's now. Why I was for it and if the state wanted to keep my vote they should have it open on Sunday's and past 6pm!! Like I said we don't drink much but if we have company and want to get something we don't want to have a closed store! So prices or not I guess I am more into the connivence of it and our new store that was the state store now has wine tasting in it and used a building that has been empty for a long time and looks good…so everything is not negative...

            1 Reply
            1. re: leavenworthgal
              firecracker Jun 26, 2012 06:54 PM

              Glad it's working out for you, Leavenworthgal. I don't drink hard liquor much at all (buy a bottle every two years) so I'm more ino the convenience thing too. Seattle's Eastside is getting a Total Wine and More store and I'm really happy about that. Hopefully volume will keep prices down a bit

            2. thirtyeyes Jun 11, 2012 06:13 PM

              I hope it is going well. And I wish Oregon follows suit. I'd really like to buy liquor in a supermarket while grocery shopping. The state run store system is silly and anachronistic.

              3 Replies
              1. re: thirtyeyes
                Steve K Jun 12, 2012 11:59 AM

                But without the added tax....

                1. re: thirtyeyes
                  kaleokahu Jun 12, 2012 03:27 PM

                  Hi, thirtyeyes:

                  Well, one lesson from the north is to scream bloody murder about any big square-foot requirement buried deep in the law or Initiative's fine print. We in Washington are coming to learn that this nasty little surprise was inserted to basically hand the state monopoly over to the chains, eliminating the possibility of real competition from smaller operators. Which, I believe, will translate into a terrible access/choice problem everywhere but the bigger cities. I started this thread to try to test that hypothesis.


                  1. re: kaleokahu
                    Neecies Sep 11, 2012 04:38 PM

                    Prices are up, selection's down. The average Yellow Tail buyer is nonplussed, the average cheap vodka buyer is probably happy for the convenience, and anyone into fine wine has seen the selection of interesting, geeky wines disappear as retailers fill the remaining space not needed for hard hooch with all the boring corporate-winery 'usual suspects'. A shame because it shuts out the small boutique wineries the in-store wine consultants (who also seem to be getting scarce) used to feature--good for WA's wine business and wine-intelligent consumers. I used to buy a lot from out of state--now it will be more like 100%.

                2. s
                  sedimental Jun 11, 2012 06:07 PM

                  It absolutely stinks where I am. Shelves are half bare, prices are up. I have no idea where to find specialty booze. There seems to be lots of items on the shelves for "kids" with fruit in the name: green apple, black cherry, peach, blah, blah... Maybe I never notice them before- but now when that makes up 30 percent of a shelf...you notice.

                  I hope this gets better.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sedimental
                    firecracker Jun 11, 2012 09:49 PM

                    You can now order the hard stuff online and avoid the kiddy stuff.

                    1. re: firecracker
                      sedimental Jun 12, 2012 09:39 AM

                      Yes, I will have to look into buying some specialty bottles online. I am not running around to various grocery stores just to find booze. I don't drink enough to make it worth my time.

                      I typically shop on the Rez for alcohol anyway. ...looks like I will continue to do that. They seem to always carry my "usual suspects".

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