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Liquor privatization: Another negative consequence

Post by Cheryl Tucker on June 21, 2012 at 8:35 am with 3 Comments »
June 21, 2012 2:21 pm

After liquor sales were privatized June 1, a lot of people complained about the often higher prices, which incorporated new taxes required under voter-approved Initiative 1183. Others said the increase was well worth the greater convenience of more locations selling liquor virtually around the clock.

But one point hardly anyone is talking about is how privatization has narrowed choice and made it much harder to locate more obscure items.

For instance, before privatization went into effect, I was looking for a liqueur called Creme de Violette after reading an article about a famous old cocktail using it. The state liquor store I usually patronized didn’t carry it, but the clerk looked it up for me in the state database and said another store not far away carried it. He even offered to call over and have it held for me.

I can’t imagine anything close to that would happen if I walked into a supermarket looking for that same liqueur. For one thing, there’s no similar, centralized database that would allow a clerk (if you could find one knowledgeable enough to help) at one store to see if the product was available at another location – and especially at a competitor’s.

I’ve looked at the selection available at several stores now, and it’s pretty slim compared to what was stocked at the state liquor stores. Anyone who wants a big selection to choose from will have to wait for the liquor superstores like BevMo to open. A woman who answered the phone at the Tacoma BevMo said it would open for business “next week,” but she couldn’t be more specific.

Unfortunately, whoever selected that site – across from Costco on South 37th Street – must be from out of town. The area is a traffic nightmare now; think what it’ll be like when the liquor superstore opens.

With all the empty retail space available in the South Sound, you’d think BevMo could have found a more convenient location. Hopefully the other liquor superstore that has announced plans to come here (Total Wine & More) won’t make the same mistake.




Leave a comment Comments → 3
  1. Not sure I would call this a negative consequence as much as a transition issue. I often shopped for items not carried in Tacoma stores and the answer I got was, “oh, it seems that product is carried at our Seattle store. We could probably have one here in 6-8 weeks or you could just drive up and get it.”

    But I am guessing that as soon as the old state stores reopen as private stores, the owners would be more than happy to order it for me (which the state wouldn’t do unless I bought a whole case – and who needs a whole case of Creme Yvette?).

    Finally, with the new law, you could always order what you need from Wine World & Spirits (and soon, hopefully, Amazon, who’s applied for a license) and just have it delivered. The state stores never did that.

  2. Cheryl – the 38th and Steele intersection is one of the busiest, best located retail intersections in Pierce County – there are about 65,000 cars passing through it daily. There have been hundreds of millions spent on interchange modifications to the confluence of I-5 and SR 16 improving traffic flows. Its a fantastic site for Bevmo, especially when you take into account the limited (albeit quantity value priced) varieties that will be offered by Costco. Bevmo is a regional chain that will do one deal per metro location. They will serve customers from Gig Harbor, Puyallup, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Fife. This site is central to their customer base.

    In Retailing – lots of cars and cross shopping is a good thing…

  3. Sferguson211 says:

    Definitely a transition issue, as another person stated. I live in Wenatchee, and one of the guys who picked up multiple stores is going through the conversion process himself, including dealing with the painful process of setting up inventory control and stock procedures, including multiple site POS. It took him a week to open, but the stock he carries now puts the old State system to shame, and he’s the only guy that honestly and blatantly puts ALL of the taxes, the manufacturers bottle price, AND the total, tax-included price right on the shelf sticker. You go to Safeway or Albertsons, and you pick up a bottle for 24 bucks, and you don’t even realize the taxes alone bring that bottle up to $40 or so in a heart beat before they’re ringing you up and charging you. Very sneaky of them, very trustworthy of the new entrepreneurs trying to break into the business. The store in Wenatchee is now called Good Spirits, and I’m much happier there than I was with the State.

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