Details of Costco’s Olympia liquor privatization push
on 31/03/11 at 9:04 amIndustry
As we reported yesterday, Costco is cueing up a liquor privatization bill in Olympia.
We have since spoken with Costco about the proposal.
The bill is similar to I-1100, the liquor initiative that failed last year, in that the three-tiered regulatory setup would be dismantled. For example, retailers could buy directly from distilleries and retailers could become distributors. Also, the liquor control board would have no price setting authority, which means retailers could get volume discounts from distributors.
However, acknowledging voters’ concerns about the potential proliferation of neighborhood liquor stores and the financial impacts to the state, the Costco bill is different from I-1100—which Costco spent $1.2 million trying to pass last year—in two significant ways:
1. It would limit eligibility for liquor licenses to retail spaces that are at least 9,000 square feet. This, Costco estimates, would limit licensees to about 1,100 outlets as opposed to the thousands—including gas stations and convenience stores—that would have been eligible under 1100.