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Office Hours

Posts tagged: Initiative 1183

Win an Atticus gift certificate by guessing when BevMo! comes to town

First off, no, we won't hand out a coupon for Total Wine to the winner of this Office Hours contest.

Last week we ran a story describing plans by Total Wine to open two big megastores in Spokane. Total Wine, you might remember, is one of the nation's largest alcohol retailers. It's big.

That story also raised the question when another competing chain liquor retailer, BevMo!, might show up in Spokane.  The story quoted a BevMo! spokeswoman saying:  “Not yet, but you never know…it might not be all that long.” The California firm has two Washington locations, in Silverdale and Tacoma.

We're offering a gift card to Atticus coffee shop to the lucky reader who can come closest to the opening date of the first BevMo! store in Spokane County.

Right: a $10 certificate for good ol' coffee or tea from Atticus, if your guess is closest to the opening date. Not the announcement date; the date the store actually opens for business in Spokane.

Submit entries here under this post; leave your guess in this date form:  MM/DD/YY.

In case of ties, we'll figure out some sort of solution.  Workers or employees of BevMo! and Cowles Co. are not eligible.

Use your phone to determine what the bottle of booze will cost at checkout

Many of us have heard the complaint: dang retailers, they don't show the actual price of the liquor I want to buy!

In the wake of Initiative 1183, which got the state out of the business of selling booze in Washington, people are clamoring for a simple system of determining the actual price of the bottle. The shelf price is always posted, but many stores don't include the 21.5 percent state sales booze tax, and the liter tax.

If you have an iPhone, there's an app for that.

It's been developed by a Seattle and Olympia-based firm called Expectationist, and it's called the WA STATE Liquor TAX app. As described on iTunes, it is a 99 cent calculator that simplifies your buying decision.

Its description says: Future versions should include the ability to share deals with friends, find the nearest bargains, and even track prices of your favorite brands.

Coalition files suit to force Liquor Control Board to change retail liquor rules

Additional material added, 1:50 p.m. June 22

You can find a copy of the petition at the bottom of this post. 

The aftermath of Initiative 1183 continues.  A West side group, the  1183 Coalition, announced on Friday it filed a Thurston County suit contesting how the state implemented the rules covering sales from retail locations.

I-1183, passed by voters last fall, allows private sales of liquor across Washington state.

The coalition includes the Washington Restaurant Association (WRA), the Northwest Grocery Association (NWGA) and Costco Wholesale Corp.

The suit is particularly focused on Liquor Control Board rulings that deter retail-to-retail sales. The main concerns are:

  • 24-liter per day restriction on sales of wine and spirits from retailers to restaurants
  • Restrictions on delivery locations for spirits distributors
  • Imposition of unauthorized fee on certain spirits manufacturers
  • Discrimination against foreign spirit producers ability to market product to retailers

Attorneys for the coalition say the board's approach “arbitrarily restricts the wholesale distribution and pricing of wine and spirits. This approach erodes small businesses' ability to compete in the marketplace; it protects distributors from competition and increases prices for consumers.”

 


Documents:

The Supreme Court barely approves state’s new liquor privatization law (with links)

So you may have heard the Washington State Supreme Court ruled Thursday (May 31) in a 5 to 4 opinion, that the privatization of liquor sales was legal.

Read the key opinion at this link. There is of course a dissenting view, which can be read here.

The dissent, authored by Justice Stephen Warning, includes this summary:

   An initiative can impose new taxes, but the ballot title cannot misleadingly imply that it does not.  Likewise, earmarking a portion of the new tax revenue for public safety is not inherently problematic, but  (the Constitution's) article II, section 19 precludes combining a substantive liquor privatization law with an earmark that has no rational relation to liquor privatization and may have been included only  to win votes.   We respectfully dissent.

Here's the majority opinion summary of the changes that I-1183 makes in the distribution of revenue for local governments, as well as the small changes pertaining to advertising:

The initiative additionally secures the current distribution of liquor revenues to local governments and dedicate[s] a portion of the new revenues raised from liquor license fees to increase funding for local public safety programs, including police, fire, and emergency services in communities throughout the state.  The additional portion is “$10 million per year from the spirits license fees [to] be provided to border areas, counties, cities, and towns through the liquor revolving fund for the purpose of enhancing public safety programs.”   

       I-1183 also modified the law pertaining to liquor advertising.  The initiative removed a provision that prohibited the Liquor Control Board from advertising liquor but maintained the LCB's “power to adopt any and all reasonable rules as to the kind, character, and location of advertising of liquor.”   I-1183 also added that the LCB is prohibited from restricting the “advertising of lawful prices.”

 

One sure thing: I-1183 will create about 200 Eastern Washington distribution jobs

So the Initiative 1183 attacks can begin. Starting Friday, people who voted for the privatization of liquor sales in Washington can claim they opposed it along. Sure, now they can say, “I knew it would lead to higher prices.”

On Friday those prices become available. Today's SR story showed two things: most liquor choices will cost more than in the state system; and a lot of people are not sure how the prices will shake out, after the initial first few months of marketing and hype.

On the retail side, the initiative means higher operating costs and no reason to add jobs. But on the wholesale side, there's clearly a job boom. The big liquor distributors for the state are now Southern Wine & Spirits and Young’s Market Company.

Both have Eastern Washington offices. Combined, the two distributors are expected to add about 210 workers in Eastern Washington for delivery, sales and warehousing. That number comes from John Guadnola, executive director of the Washington Beer and Wine Distributors Association.

State liquor license auction nets about $30.7 million for Washington

More than 120 people or companies placed bids over the past 45 days to acquire 167 Washington-run state liquor stores. The auction concluded Friday evening, and the total bid amount came to $30.7 million.

That's what the state will reap as private operators start selling booze. The auctions are not for the stores, which the state was leasing. The auctions give winners only a right to sell liquor at the physical location of the state store.

The auction follows last fall's statewide approval of Initiative 1183, which takes the state out of the business of selling alcohol. The changes go into effect on June 1.

The first-time-ever auction attracted 551 bidders who cast more than 14,620 bids — including one worth $4.6 million for all 167 stores. That bid was not successful.

The single largest bid was $750,000 for a store in Tacoma, followed by $500,100 for a store in Seattle.

State liquor board launches online auctions for 167 liquor stores

While opponents are still legally challenging the validity of Initiative 1183, which privatized liquor sales in Washington, you can start looking at ways to bid on 167 state- run stores that will be sold off this year.

The initiative will allow private companies to sell spirits starting  June 1.

In the meantime, the state liquor control board has a website devoted to the whole bidding process, which started this week. Minimum bids will be $1,000 per store.

Successful bidders will have the exclusive right to sell spirits at 167 locations less than the 10,000 square feet threshold established by Initiative 1183.

There's a FAQ here to explain the ins and outs of the process.

The online auction closes April 20, 2012. Announcement of winning bidder(s) is tentatively scheduled for April 30, 2012.

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