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Wednesday, April 1, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Clark: Buying booze at Costco doesn’t live up to buzz

Last Saturday found me at the East Sprague Costco along with 99.97452 percent of the residents of Spokane County.

I was one of the lucky ones, though. I found this really convenient parking spot near Liberty Lake.

It was no mystery what brought such a smash of humanity to Costco.

Initiative 1183, which passed last year, went into effect the day before.

This initiative put an end to state-run liquor stores that hawked hooch at the jacked-up prices that you’d expect whenever government agencies or the Mafia get involved in sales.

Thanks to voters, however, hard alcohol can now be sold at private enterprises like grocery stores, big-box outlets, office lunchrooms, car trunks, church sanctuaries, city editor desks and kiddie lemonade stands.

Plus Costco, of course.

Now Costco is a store made famous by its over-the-top, supersized value deals.

Breakfast cereals, say.

At Costco they come in the same-sized boxes that were used in the 1950s to ship black-and-white Zenith console televisions.

So I envisioned Initiative 1183 as being a perfect opportunity for Costco to create booze bargains like the Jack Daniels 50-gallon Tipplers Tub.

And imagine the effect the Initiative 1183 could have on Costco’s beloved free samples.

Blitzed shoppers could cruise from kiosk to kiosk, sampling mango margaritas or coconut rum punch.

SHOPPER: “Nother pleeez.”

SAMPLE LADY: “Sir, this is your 13th Loganberry Jell-O shot. I’m cutting you off!”


A Costco happy hour would be some fun, huh?

So I elbowed my way through the front door, losing only a couple of molars in the process, and headed straight for the liquor displays.

No 80-proof party packs.

No wet bar sampler stations.


On the other hand, there were bottles galore of whiskey and tequila and vodka and all at positively amazing prices.

“Man, oh, Manischewitz!” I exclaimed. “Becoming an alcoholic has never been more affordable.”

Dan, a really friendly Costco employee I’ve known for years, noticed my hysterical giggling. Rather than call a security guard, however, he took a moment to patiently explain what was going on.

The posted prices don’t reflect all the taxes and fees.

Those, he told me, would be added on once customers got to the checkout registers.

You know, things like sales tax and a 10 percent tax on gross receipts.

And some sort of sore loser’s payback fee.

And don’t forget the mandatory contribution to the Washington Senate’s Solid Gold Urinal Maintenance Fund.

I got out my iPhone calculator app and started adding up all the add-ons.

By my calculations, it’s still cheaper for the average Spokane drunk to make a booze run to Post Falls in a RENTED LEARJET!!!

We all had such hopes for Initiative 1183.

But why be surprised?

Washington government has always been a giant, bloodsucking leech that is determined to drain the taxpayers dry.

It is so weird. We keep electing these seemingly ordinary human beings who smile and promise to be our friends.

Then they get into office and become tax-happy fiends.

Even the local sheriff wants to raise our taxes.

I wish I had a smartphone app to keep track of all the pickpockets.

My advice is to forget about Initiative 1183. Spend your money instead on copper tubing and some other stuff that you can find easily at junkyards and hardware stores.

I don’t have all the details. But you can get them easily by doing a YouTube search for: “How to make a moonshine still.”

Oh, yeah. You’ll probably need a shotgun, too.

You know, just in case the gov’ment finds out and them revenuers come a-calling.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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