Voters kick Washington state out of liquor business

on 09/11/11 at 3:38 pm

Booze News

Next June, consumers in Washington state will be able to buy hard liquor at grocery and warehouse stores, including Costco.

Beginning June 1, grocery stores in Washington will begin selling liquor.

That’s the result of a $22.7 million voter campaign that Costco Wholesale led to kick the state out of the liquor business and allow private retailers to sell spirits instead.

Of the ballots tallied Tuesday night, about 60 percent favored Initiative 1183.

Beginning next June, liquor sales will shift from the state to grocery and warehouse stores, including Costco. It means more than 900 state employees will lose their jobs, most of them workers at state-run liquor stores.

The state budgeting office figures the number of outlets selling liquor will jump from 328 to 1,428. It also expects the change to generate an average of $80 million more in annual revenue for the state and local governments over the next six years.

Some liquor prices are expected to drop, although not as low as in California, because Washington will keep its high liquor taxes.

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