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Jun 10, 2012 02:45 PM

Liquor Privatization in Washington

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?


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  1. 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 notice.

    I hope this gets better.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sedimental

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

      1. re: firecracker

        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".

    2. 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

          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

            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. 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

            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. 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

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

              1. re: kav23

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

                1. re: Steve K

                  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

                    (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. 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

                  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

                    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.