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So just how much of a boost did Washington's liquor-privatization move give Idaho's state liquor stores along the Idaho-Washington border? A nice bump, but not anything they're counting on lasting. The reason: Though Washington liquor prices went up, waves of discounting - not allowed at state stores - are likely in the future under that state's newly privatized system. You can read S-R reporter Jim Camden's recent full report here.
With Washington gearing up to privatize its liquor sales by June, Idaho state officials are worried about losing sales at their state-run liquor stores along the Washington-Idaho border; already, they've tabled plans for new state liquor stores in Oldtown and Post Falls. “I think we will continue to remain competitive,” said Idaho State Liquor Division Director Jeff Anderson, “but we really don't know.” Last year, Idaho's liquor division distributed $50 million in profits to the state's general fund, cities, counties and courts.
For now, Anderson said, Idaho won't add any new stores, and will instead try to “get more out of the stores we have.” At least 13 of Idaho's state liquor stores are within 15 miles of the Idaho-Washington border, according to researchers at the state's Office of Performance Evaluations, which has been raising something of an alarm about the pending change. “They account for 23 percent of the sales in the state,” researcher Jared Tatro told Idaho lawmakers this week, “$34 million in sales, $13 million in profits last year alone.” If sales at those stores drop by just 10 percent next year, Idaho could lose $3.3 million in profits, he warned.
Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene, said, “I've been told that the Post Falls stores sell more than anyplace in the state, and I'm sure it's because of the sales to Washingtonians.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Item: Meet the state monopoly Idaho leaders love: retail liquor sales/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman
More Info: Privatizing distribution and sales could bring first year-revenues of $48 million and annual revenues over $600,000. Partial privatization — state wholesale but private retail — would bring $60 million the first year and $200,000 annually. But Otter wrote lawmakers that he supports the status quo for three reasons: The state constitution grants the power to regulate liquor; state control promotes temperance; and current liquor revenue is “stable and reliable.”
Question: I've never purchased a bottle of hooch from an Idaho liquor store. But I still think it's weird that a free enterprise state, like Idaho, refuses to privatize the liquor biz. How about you?