liquor privatization

Bill Would Gradually Lower Liquor Taxes

Feb 26, 2014
AP Photo

Republican and Democrat lawmakers are introducing a measure on Wednesday that would gradually lower liquor taxes.

Backers say lowering taxes would spur more purchases in Washington state and the revenue to the state would eventually be at the same levels prior to privatization.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Fewer teenagers in Washington say drinking alcohol is wrong, according to a survey taken after the state privatized liquor sales by two Northwest public health researchers.

The finding comes as Oregon voters are being asked to sign petitions for a similar liquor sales privatization.

Associated Press

State lawmakers extended a lifeline this year to small liquor stores who had struggled under the new privatization rules, but that change has also opened the door for large retailers to ask for the same break next year.

In one of the final votes taken by the Legislature before adjournment last month, lawmakers agreed to limit the fees paid by the smaller stores that used to handle liquor sales when the state controlled the market. Those outlets will no longer have to pay a 17 percent fee for sales to bars and restaurants.

Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of private retail liquor sales in Washington. According to the Liquor Control Board, 1,680 retailers now stock vodka, whiskey, and other spirits.

Dean Hasegawa, manager of the Red Apple supermarkets on Seattle’s Beacon Hill and in the Central Area, says the biggest problem for him and other retailers has been theft. 

"That was an expensive learning curve, I’m going to tell you," said Hasegawa, reflecting on the past year.

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Washington state officials say sales of hard liquor have increased since the state privatized liquor sales.

The Washington Liquor Control Board auctions off 15,000 cases of alcohol Thursday to the highest bidder with a liquor license.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Statewide liquor sales in Washington are up since privatization took effect in June. But business is down dramatically at some former state-owned liquor stores.

At Rainier Park Liquor, it used to take two clerks during the day. Three at peak times. Now manager Kevin Dziedzic says one person can mind the store most of the time. Business is so slow he even had to lay-off the owner’s brother.

“Definitely just have to be wiser with the money we spend,” Dziedzic says.

Jake Ellison / KPLU

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington liquor sales are showing signs of continued strength after the state moved to a privatized system.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington liquor sales picked back up in July, the second month people were able to buy liquor in Washington grocery stores and other markets. Sales were up 15.4 percent compared to July 2011.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington liquor prices were 17 percent higher on average in June, compared to the same month a year ago.

The state Department of Revenue also reported sales declined in the first month private retailers could sell spirits in Washington.

Hannah Jacobson / For KPLU

Liquor in a hardware store? Mini’s at the checkout stand? Mega-stores around the corner?

Woman on the street: “My parents actually needed a gift for a friend of ours, and they were able to buy it at a convenience store – like a nice bottle of liquor. I think it’s convenient!”

Now that Washington State is out of the liquor sales business, bottles of booze are showing up in some unexpected places.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

"It's a buying frenzy. That's why I came - I wanted to see it on the first day. How could I miss it?" - Kyle Johnson outside a Costco in Seattle

The state of Washington has officially bid good riddance to its state-run liquor stores. About five times as many stores will now sell hard liquor, and the new law that went into effect today means shoppers can head to supermarkets to buy vodka or rum. It’s a welcome change for some people, like Alyssa Royse.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

A huge shift takes place tomorrow when we’ll be able to walk into a Fred Meyer or Safeway and walk out with a bottle of gin. But if you walk out without paying, beware. You may trigger an alarm. 

It's just like when you buy a pair of jeans and the clerk snaps off a security tag so you don’t beep when you exit the store. Now when you go buy a bottle of booze, you may see something similar. The device is like a thick plastic sheath that covers the top of the bottle, and it’s designed to make thieves think twice.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Supreme Court has upheld a voter-approved initiative privatizing liquor sales, one day before the initiative takes effect.

Washington retailers are getting ready for the 78-year-old state monopoly on liquor sales to end this Friday. It’s not yet clear what privatization will do to the price of alcohol in Washington. One entity with a big stake in the matter … is the state of Idaho.

Some of Idaho’s most profitable state-run liquor stores just happen to be along its northwestern border.

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