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Oct 28

I-1183: RIP liquor selection & convenience

I-1183 kills my nearby liquor selection and its shopping convenience.

I’m not going to get into the debate of whether liquor stores should be state run. The major debate among drinkers as to why they want to vote for I-1183 is “cheaper prices.” I agree with that. We all want lower, more competitive prices on liquor. But most drinkers haven’t considered what I-1183 will immediately do to liquor selection and convenience.

West Seattle Liquor & Wine, photo © WSLCB West Seattle Liquor & Wine, photo © WSLCB

1,000 liquors on the wall: Now that’s a selection!

Each of Washington’s Liquor & Wine retail shops stock over 1,000 products. That’s right — more than a thousand. There are big familiar brands of liquor, ones you are familiar with from advertising campaigns, to small unique products including Northwest craft distillery products. They even have a selection of beer and wine, so you can grab a little something for everyone attending your party without making a second stop for alcoholic goods.

And 30 stores in Washington are participating in a program that’ll allow you to taste super premium products. That’s right, you can taste liquor at these small shops.

To top all that off, if you don’t see the product you seek, all you have to do submit a special order. If the liquor or wine is available from a supplier within the United States, the Liquor & Wine shop will order a case for you. Each month they process an average of 1,293 special orders, that’s over 15,000 special orders every year.

Costco wants you to vote yes on I-1183 so they can get into the liquor business. But have you ever seen 1,000 of any one kind of product at Costco? Oh, yes, 1,000 is a big selection, so let’s go smaller: Have you ever seen 25 of any one kind product at Costco?

Keep our liquor selection. Vote No on I-1183.

Convenient locations and hours

Liquor & Wine shops have convenient hours, most opening around 10:00 a.m., with closing hours between 7:00 and 10:00 p.m.; some are even open on Sundays.

Within 12 miles of my house there are eight locations that carry this wide assortment of liquor. Most are shops around 1,500 square feet, considered small business by size, which allow me to park directly in front and quickly run in for a bottle. It’s a quick in-and-out.

If I-1183 is approved, stores carrying liquor most be 10,000 square feet or larger. That’s over 75% larger than current liquor shops! This means there will be absolutely no boutique liquor shops, something I’d prefer. It also clearly indicates that we will be relying nearly entirely on corporate chains to sell us liquor. With I-1183, we simply trade the state monopoly for corporate monopoly. There is no room for entrepreneurial small business growth, no room to closely support our community.

Keep the convenience. Support local small business growth. Vote No on I-1183.

Vote No: Choose selection & convenience

I-1183 is written to benefit corporations. Sure, you may get a handful of brands at Costco at cheaper prices. You may be able to grab a bottle of Bacardi at Safeway. Don’t kill our selection and convenience. Give us the opportunity to buy liquor at neighborhood boutique shops. A vote for I-1183 puts a nail in the coffin, and I don’t want to be giving a eulogy for my liquor. Vote No on I-1183.

We want laws that benefit the people, not just big business. Vote No on I-1183.

4 comments

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  1. DataDriven

    No matter your opinion on the matter, the debate should be driven by facts, as opposed to emotions.

    The statement that liquor stores must be over 10,000 square feet is false. According to the voter’s guide from the Secretary of State, “Initiative 1183 also allows a retail spirits license for a store at the location of a former state liquor store or contract liquor store, even if the store is smaller than 10,000 square feet.” Additionally, “It also allows smaller stores where there are no 10,000 square foot licensed spirits stores in the area.”

    http://wei.secstate.wa.gov/osos/en/Pages/OnlineVotersGuide.aspx?Electionid=42&sorttype=Measures

    At the end of it all, the current debate is being driven by businesses with a vested interest in the matter (Costco on one side and the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America on the other), which may be the bigger shame.

    1. Tiffany

      Existing contract liquor stores, such as the beloved Ruston Liquor Store will be able to apply to continue selling liquor under I-1183.

      As for new stores, “where there are no 10,000 square foot licensed spirits stores in the area” means if none of the local Albertsons, Safeways, Costcos, Fred Meyers, Wal*Marts, Top Foods, etc. are carrying liquor, new small business can apply for the license to be the go-to liquor location for the area. But let’s be real, DataDriven, what areas don’t have large chains? And what chain won’t take advantage of a $166 annual license to sell an assortment of liquor that’ll bring in way more profits and people?

      Will I-1183 allow boutique wine, beer, and sake stores be able to expand into special selections of fine whiskeys, locally crafted distilled spirits, and so forth? No. Why? Because I-1183 is written by big business, for big business.

      We want laws that benefit the people, not just big business. Vote No on I-1183. Tell Costco to go back to the drawing board and write an initiative that doesn’t just benefit them. We can wait another year.

  2. eric

    “Will I-1183 allow boutique wine, beer, and sake stores be able to expand into special selections of fine whiskeys, locally crafted distilled spirits, and so forth? No. Why? Because I-1183 is written by big business, for big business.”

    You had your chance at that one last time!
    Imagine if you could have expanded into the space next door – you’d have a booming boutique liquor business.

    I can get pappy van winkle in coffeyville, KS, but I can’t seem to buy it in washington state.

    1. Tiffany

      “You had your chance last time.”
      Yes, I had the chance to vote Yes on either or both I-1100 and I-1105 in the 2010 system. And I voted No for same primary reason that I vote no on I-1183. All three are written by big business, for big business. All three remove the three-tier system.

      In your second comment, reference is to California. Did you know that California maintains a three-tier system? Washington consumers are frequently confused between “control state” (spirits distributed/sold by the state) and the three tiers. The three tier system is in place in all states and was setup at the time of the 21st Amendment. Few consumers understand how the system helps.

      The three-tier system guarantees the best beer/wine wins. It’s not about what producer sells the cheapest, giving the deepest discounts to retailers. With all prices fair and equal to all retailers, the consumer is guaranteed fairly consistent pricing from business-to-business. There’s no single business amassing and hoarding single brands in their warehouses, allowing them to reach expiration and selling them at deeper discounts to consumers. Beer is delivered direct to the business and put out for sale, fresh. As stated by Greg Parker of Iron Horse Brewing, in his blogpost

      Since pricing must be consistent across customers, producers set prices at sustainable levels.

      “The current system encourages competition based on the merits of the beer and the brand rather than the depth of discount or value-added practices (free shit). These protections have strengthened the beer ecosystem by putting small breweries and small retailers on the same level as the big producers and retail chains.”…

      There are no price wars (not entirely, but it plays out much differently than if there were no uniform pricing) for retailer business, so price being equal, retailers take on the beers that consumers want and that sell the best. It is my honest, heartfelt belief that uniform pricing is one of the largest factors contributing to the birth and growth of the craft beer industry in Washington state.

      Sean Sullivan, of the Washington Wine Report, also provides a detailed review of the affects of I-1183 on the wine industry. As wine sets precedent for beer, the same impacts can and will be transferred to our preferred beverage. Read his eight posts on the impact of I-1183.

      Support your community. Vote no on I-1183.

      p.s., The state liquor stores will special order any liquor available in the USA for you, you simply need to commit to a full case if it’s something not typically stocked.

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