Costco Works to Change Washington Liquor Laws

June 22nd, 2010 · 12 Comments

In Washington state there is a big push on right now to get the state liquor laws changed, to allow retailers like Costco, and other grocery stores, to be able to purchase liquor in bulk at a discount and to process those orders through its central store or warehouse.  Currently, there is no bulk buying discount for retailers and Costco has to purchase wine and beer separately for each of its Washington locations.

Costco decided to support Initiative 1100 because the Company believes it bests serves the interests of its members, and consumers in general, by providing them greater choices in their purchasing options and allowing them to benefit from efficiencies that the private sector and competition can bring to the sale of liquor, wine and beer.

Costco has donated more than $530,000.00 to Modernize Washington in an effort to get Initiative 1100 put on the upcoming November ballot.  Initiative 1100 would allow businesses that currently sell beer and wine to also sell spirits and would eliminate price controls and allow for volume discounts.  The proposal would give retailers more freedom in how they purchase and sell beer and wine, as well as spirits.  The initiative would also take away “tied house” rules restricting cross-ownership of alcohol producers, distributors and merchants, which have regulated alcohol sales in many states since the end of Prohibition in 1933.  Other groups supporting the proposal include the Northwest Grocery Association and the Washington Restaurant Association.  Opponents of the measure say price controls and other regulations minimize alcohol abuse and related problems such as domestic violence.

Earlier this month 26 Costco locations in Washington were taking part in a petition drive to acquire the necessary signatures to get Initiative 1100 put on the November ballot.  Costco CEO, Jim Sinegal, said that they felt that they had an adequate number of signatures after just 16 days, so they are no longer taking signatures.  They need 242,000 verifiable signatures by July 2, to ensure that it makes the November ballot.  Sharon Gilpin, a political consultant who put together the initiative, said she hopes to collect as many as 300,000 signatures to ensure a “cushion.”

Costco’s swift signature-collection effort is a sign “the electorate agree that liquor sales should be privatized,” Sinegal said. “It’s a validation of our position and their trust in Costco.”

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12 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 mary // 2010.07.25 at 11:30 pm

    I agree that it would be nice to see more healthy options such as vegetarian and vegan, but dont hold your breath it is consumer driven in what they sell just like any other store. More local produce would be great get way too much from mexico and chile and always not in season.

  2. 2 Tom // 2010.07.22 at 9:45 am

    Agreed William. We don’t need the relaxation of liquor stores in WA. The current system has worked fine for years. Look at New York and CA. Liquor store on every corner. Costco has the profit motive in mind, not their members well being.
    They should spend more effort on improving existing product price, quality, selection and nutrition.

  3. 3 william // 2010.07.20 at 11:40 pm

    I own 3 beer stores in washington state and yes i would benefit from selling hard liquor…..but as a resident we dont need a liquor store on every block washington is a great state,,,its just a bottle of booze its not worth turning our state into trash….

  4. 4 kim // 2010.06.28 at 4:53 pm

    Would love to see Costco lobby here in Utah to get our liquor laws changed. The last time we drove to Cali I stocked up at a Costco there. Later learned (luckily not the hard way) that it’s not actually legal to bring alcohol into the state. Oops.

  5. 5 mary sue // 2010.06.24 at 10:24 am

    In Nevada you can buy it all at Costco and even grocery stores. In Utah no way you can’t buy anything more then 3.25 at the stores, you now have to buy wine coolers ans such at the state controlled liquor store. It cost anywheres from 10% more to at least 80% more. You can buy at a costco In Nevada a 1.75L for abou t23.00 the same thing in utah 39.99 before taxes. Talk about a ripoff of coursr this keeps consumtion down yea right. Utah still has alot of drunk driving arrests.

  6. 6 Bellydancerakn // 2010.06.24 at 2:33 am

    This would be awesome. I acutally do live here in Sequim, Washington and have always thought it odd that I can buy malt liquor and beer and wine at walmart, but not vodka or tequila. Thank you for explaining to to me. And having read reviews of costco liquor I would love to be able to get some.
    I really hope this does pass and actually do think it will.
    As for the people saying that “price controls and other regulations minimize alcohol abuse and related problems such as domestic violence”, that’s just idiotic logic. If a guy is an alcoholic he doesn’t care what kind of alcohol he gets, be it vodka or beer, as long as he can get drunk.

  7. 7 Clue // 2010.06.23 at 3:54 pm

    It’s pretty complicated, but in the simplest terms, in TX, stores selling liquor have to licenses as “package stores, ” which must be completely closed to the public on Sundays. They also cannot sell beer or wine, and cannot be licensed to sell at more than 5 locations.

    To avoid all of these issues and more, Costco in TX sub-lets space to a “package store ” that they don’t own or have any direct financial interest in. These are located in a separate store attached to their premises.

    The state’s code’s requirements for selling beer and wine are much less onerous.

    If you’re ever suffering from insomnia and want a guaranteed snooze, you can ready all about this stuff in Chapter 22 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.

    • 8 Kimberly // 2010.06.24 at 6:34 am

      Clue, I’m glad you read this and summarized it so nicely so that I don’t have to read it myself. :-)

  8. 9 Kimberly // 2010.06.23 at 12:16 pm

    In Texas they have wine and beer in the store, but they keep the hard stuff in a separate store that you can only get to from a completely separate entrance. I’m not sure really what the thinking there is since they have some stuff inside the store. But I’m not all that familiar with the intricacies of alcohol sales in Texas.

  9. 10 Emily (Bentobloggy) // 2010.06.22 at 8:39 pm

    I love that here in Georgia I can buy magnums of Kirkland vodka (I’ve heard it’s actually Grey Goose) for about $30!

  10. 11 XUP // 2010.06.22 at 10:48 am

    In Canada, liquor purchases are all done by provincial liquor boards. The Ontario liquor board is the largest purchaser of alcohol in the world. They distribute it to licensed liquor stores, which is the only place you can buy liquor in most provinces. (except for wineries which are allowed to sell out of the winery and/or special grocery store kiosks.

  11. 12 GregLeg // 2010.06.22 at 6:09 am

    At least Costco CAN purchase liquor for its stores in some states. No alcohol sales in the stores in PA at all.

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