A state liquor store in Post Falls has become Idaho’s top-seller of booze, with customers from nearby Eastern Washington helping drive up sales of distilled spirits.
Brent Layton lives in Post Falls and said there are times he finds himself outnumbered by shoppers from Spokane.
“Sometimes I feel like a minority coming in here,” Layton told the Coeur d’Alene Press.
Buzz Everett was among customers from Spokane who made the roughly 20-mile drive to the North Idaho store to buy liquor before the holiday weekend. Everett said he can buy a bottle of cinnamon whisky in Idaho for $11.80, and the same bottle would cost about $17 in his state.
“It’s about being cheaper over here, and this is the closest store for us,” Everett said, pointing out the number of out-of-state license plates outside the store. “Look at the parking lot – Washington, Washington, Washington …”
The Idaho State Liquor Division reports sales at the Post Falls store are estimated at about $5 million for the most recent fiscal year, a 10 percent jump from the previous year. Statewide, liquor sales rose about 2 percent, from $135.8 million to about $137.8 million, according to preliminary data.
This northern Idaho region has become something of a magnet for shoppers from Eastern Washington trying to avoid paying more for certain items in their home state.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire this year approved a revenue package that nets roughly $780 million to avoid deeper cuts to education, health care and human services but means consumers pay more for several convenience-store favorites, including soda, bottled water, major-brand beer, candy and cigarettes.
It’s higher prices that have sent residents, including Mike Smith, of Spokane, across the border for some items.
“In Washington, everything is so taxed that we have to run to Idaho for our cigarettes and booze,” Smith said.