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Changes coming in alcohol sales in WA?

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Wine Spectator has an article about the initiative proposals to change the way alcohol is sold in Washington State.

 

Simplified, the first proposal (I-1100) would end the system of state owned spirits stores, replacing them with licenses issued to groceries, convenience stores, etc. It would also legalize volume discounts, and purchases directly from producers, which are currently illegal. The wholesalers would lose their intermediary position for large purchases. Costco, which lost a court case on this issue a few years ago, is a financial backer of the 1100.

 

The second proposal (I-1105) would also end state stores, but would keep the three tier (producer, distributor or wholesaler, and retailer) system. This proposal, which is supported by the wholesalers, is supported by some small wine makers, who fear the loss of shelf space to better financed big wine producers.

 

A third group, Protect our Communities, opposes 1100 and 1105 on the grounds either would increase alcohol sales. This effort is supported by the church groups, firefighters, nurses, etc on health and public safety grounds. It is also supported by the wholesalers.

 

The article says that if both win, the legislature will be forced to work out a compromise between the two proposals.

 

Any Mouthfuls comments on how the proposals would affect your own purchases or available choices?

 

Costco has similar legal issues in NJ, where retailers are limited to two retail licenses for the entire state. It has sued (and lost) on both the license and the wholesaler issue. Wegmans, a local retail grocery, found an elegant solution to the two licenses per corporation or individual rule.

 

Two Wegmans stores have retail licenses, so you can ring up purchases of beer or whiskey along with your radicchio or Tide detergent. The other stores have retail liquor licensed stores adjacent, each owned by a Wegman nephew / niece or other Wegman relative. Separate entrances, no presence inside the store, separate register, no inclusion in the store's flyer.

 

 

Seattle P-I summary of positions

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Since my alcohol consumption is abysmal, I don't see this changing anything in my buying behavior. I'm far too confused about the pros and cons to offer much other commentary. It has been surprising to see some restaurant and wine people on one side and others on the other. And then you throw in which decision will actually hurt/help the state's economy and it all gets very confusing. Not to be discussing politics or anything.

 

I remember the good old days in california when I could go to the corner store for a bottle of hard liquor. Or at least to Trader Joe's. I think I may still have some of those bottles (and I moved to Seattle in 1985.)

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Here, I'll make it easy for you:

 

Yes on I-1100

No on I-1105

 

:lol:

 

Amen.

 

I buy almost no liquor, but hate the state being the ariter of what gets sold and for how much, plus I think most distributors are pond scum and I rather see the money go to Costco. Who knows, if prices really do come down, maybe I'll drink a little more scotch and armagnac.

 

My only note of concern is that smaller wineries seem to not like either one. I think their fears are exagerated and quite frankly, I think the current system allows them to overprice their wines which has led to there being more wineries in the state than is economically viable.

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You do know who co-authored I-1100 don't you? Makes it impossible for me to believe the initiative is benign. Sorry. But thanks for trying to persuade me otherwise. Betting they will pass without my help.

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You do know who co-authored I-1100 don't you? Makes it impossible for me to believe the initiative is benign. Sorry. But thanks for trying to persuade me otherwise. Betting they will pass without my help.

 

I know that Costco is behind it, doesn't particularly bother me. Is any initiative truly benign, that is everyone's level of welfare is either unchanged or improved? No, there are always winners and losers. IMO, consumers win, Costco wins, private grocery stores win...others lose. The 'No' campaign is being bankrolled by the Beer Institute and National Beer Wholesalers, so the line about it being an issue of restricting access to alcohol is bogus.

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You do know who co-authored I-1100 don't you? Makes it impossible for me to believe the initiative is benign. Sorry. But thanks for trying to persuade me otherwise. Betting they will pass without my help.

 

I know that Costco is behind it, doesn't particularly bother me. Is any initiative truly benign, that is everyone's level of welfare is either unchanged or improved? No, there are always winners and losers. IMO, consumers win, Costco wins, private grocery stores win...others lose. The 'No' campaign is being bankrolled by the Beer Institute and National Beer Wholesalers, so the line about it being an issue of restricting access to alcohol is bogus.

 

I have more trouble with this:

"Initiative co-author Stefan Sharkansky supports the initiative "as a citizen who is looking to craft good public policy for the state of Washington," he said."

 

I really hate the initiative process in lieu of legislative action. I know, they have dragged their heels for decades on this. I'm not looking forward to public policy drafted by Stefan.

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I really hate the initiative process in lieu of legislative action.

 

Totally agree with you on that.

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No on both.

 

If 1100 passes you can say good-bye to roughly 30-40% of the floor space in your favorite wine shop to hard liquor. This means that 2 out 5 of your favorite wines will probably be no longer available at your store. And this will occur across all stores. So unless you're drinking the high volume wine (two-buck-chuck) or the big profit wine (DRC) this will have an impact on your wine purchases. If it's a choice between a $6 profit on some 'cult' Oregon Pinot Noir or $20 profit on some random vodka, it's a no brainer to the store owner.

 

1105: "The campaign is financed by alcohol wholesalers and distributors..." anytime wholesalers and distributors want a law passed defining how consumers buy alcohol it is not good for the consumer. I dare anyone to find a law financed by wholesalers and distributors passed in a state that benefited the consumer. It doesn't exist.

 

Lauren dahling :-), you know I don't drink the hard stuff and I know you do so I completely understand your position. For me, however, these initiatives are not a good idea. And I know a couple of low volume (~500 cases per year) wine makers who are sweating this. If 1100/1105 passes it's going to be really difficult for 100s of wineries in this state to stay afloat, my acquaintances included. And many out-of-state wineries will no longer have a market here as they won't have the shelf space they previously enjoyed.

 

I know where the liquors stores are. I know what they have. They suit me just fine when I need them, which isn't often, and it's only for items I use for cooking... calvados, cognac, etc. I didn't mind the drive before when I lived in the suburbs and I don't mind the walk now that I live in the city.

 

I know this next scenario will be a stretch for some of you so bear with me. If these initiatives pass I firmly believe that this will be a drain on the enforcement resources of your community, mainly the police. If there's one state-run store in one square mile it's more difficult for teenagers, vagabonds, etc. to get to so it's easier to police. If there are 25 stores in that same square mile it's easier for the same folks to get the hard stuff and it's more difficult to police and the enforcement resources are drained.

 

Quite frankly, I'm finding that there aren't enough police around to make me feel safe in my neighborhood. It's going down and going down fast. Which is too bad because if it's going down for me it's going down for the 10 million tourists who visit Pike's Place Market each year as it's just a block away from my residence. If the police are out handling calls about some store selling to minors or some store has a shoplifter, they're not available to attend to the public safety calls.

 

So those are the reasons why I'm voting no to both.

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If 1100 passes you can say good-bye to roughly 30-40% of the floor space in your favorite wine shop to hard liquor. This means that 2 out 5 of your favorite wines will probably be no longer available at your store. And this will occur across all stores. So unless you're drinking the high volume wine (two-buck-chuck) or the big profit wine (DRC) this will have an impact on your wine purchases. If it's a choice between a $6 profit on some 'cult' Oregon Pinot Noir or $20 profit on some random vodka, it's a no brainer to the store owner.

 

I just don't see this happening. De Laurenti's and Pike & Western are going to give over huge floor space to boooze? Why would they when they've cultivated a clientele that shops there for interesting wines? I see your point, but would they rather sell a single bottle of vodka or a mixed case to a long-time customer? Wine shops are going to be wine shops. Will small wineries lose shelf space in grocery stores? Probably, but that's been shrinking with the economy anyways.

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I am so conflicted on this issue - where to begin? Received this blog article from Susan at McCrea - it makes sense, and then one reads the comments on the blog and????? It seems like we need reform of the law, but is this the right way to go?

 

Reluctant Vote

 

Hmmm...

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If 1100 passes you can say good-bye to roughly 30-40% of the floor space in your favorite wine shop to hard liquor. This means that 2 out 5 of your favorite wines will probably be no longer available at your store. And this will occur across all stores. So unless you're drinking the high volume wine (two-buck-chuck) or the big profit wine (DRC) this will have an impact on your wine purchases. If it's a choice between a $6 profit on some 'cult' Oregon Pinot Noir or $20 profit on some random vodka, it's a no brainer to the store owner.

 

I just don't see this happening. De Laurenti's and Pike & Western are going to give over huge floor space to boooze? Why would they when they've cultivated a clientele that shops there for interesting wines? I see your point, but would they rather sell a single bottle of vodka or a mixed case to a long-time customer? Wine shops are going to be wine shops. Will small wineries lose shelf space in grocery stores? Probably, but that's been shrinking with the economy anyways.

In this economy, and if I were the owner of either De Laurenti's or Pike & Western, I would definitely bring in higher profit booze. I would especially bring it in to due to the high tourist volume.

 

I don't think the small wineries have that much presence in grocery stores. And I'm not as concerned with how 1100/1105 would affect grocery stores because of the small space they currently have for wine/beer compared to their total square footage. They can knock out half an aisle of cards, wrapping paper, and balloons and relegate it to an end cap with no loss of that business and not affect their wine/beer inventory.

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And here is another perspective:

 

WA giving away liquor business?

 

This quote stood out in the article:

 

There, a number of states also are looking to get out of liquor. But all would do so by having government act like a business — by auctioning off the liquor-store system to the highest bidders.

 

Virginia has 332 state-run liquor outlets. The governor there, Republican Bob McDonnell, has proposed replacing them by auctioning 1,000 lifetime liquor-sales licenses to grocery stores and other retailers. Estimated haul from the auction: $265 million. He would use the money for road construction.

 

Pennsylvania is also considering an auction. West Virginia already did one, selling off its rights to be in the liquor business for an average of $220,000 per license. The top bid for a single urban-area store was $675,000.

 

In PA, the state liquor control board (note control in the name) may be forced to close its stores, which has the very well paid clerks union in an uproar. There, the proposal is to sell rights which may be a few blocks in densely populated places to a whole county in some rural places. But, the proposal assumes five years, and has limits on how many licenses an individual or corporation may hold.

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I just bot back in town and havent had time to sit down & do serious reading on the issue, but my instinctive response pre-research is No to both.

 

Let me start by emphasizing that I am NOT anti-booze - y'all know I like my cocktails :rolleyes:

but I AM concerned about how this will affect the number of drunks on the street and deaths from people getting behind the wheel overly intoxicated etc.

I grew up in california, in an urban area with more liquor stores per block than Seattle has coffee shops. it was so easy for kids, drunks etc to find someone who would sell them hard liquor despite their obvious youth/inebriation. if one store said "No" you just walked a few steps to another store.

 

Yes the limitations of the WSLCB frustrate me, and I think we need reforms, but I really appreciate that the people selling hard liquor are state employees whose liveliehoods aren't dependant on pushing as much product out the door as possible the way a mom & pop retail spot would be. I genuinely believe that it saves lives.

 

my 2 cents so far...

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