State Needs to Respond Quickly to State Stores' Close Brush with Death


free samples
Allow my wife to buy a bottle of whiskey even if she's got our 8 month old with her.
How about just privatize, but with strict licensing controls and a big old liquor tax to keep revenues the same? Perhaps not allowing sales at gas stations as well.
Double the number of stores, especially in dense urban neighborhoods.

Increase availability of unusual brands, and try to stay on top of trends in bars, magazines, and books.

Stay open until at least 10 PM seven days a week.
Diversify the brands of liquor that they sell, i.e, absinthe, various flavors of vodka, and gin, etc.
Last Christmas Season, they opened up a store in the Pacific Place Mall, next to the Seahawk pro-shop. It was supposed to help people get better access to booze for the holidays, but was more or less a test that failed.

My wife loves scotch. She went in and saw that it was nothing but expensive spirits. That and you had this creepy "Being watched at all times" look from the store employees. She had noticed a black man walked in, dressed normally (ie: not a thug or homeless man), he took a look at booze available, but was watched like a hawk by stern looking clerks. At that point, my wife walked out. It was like walking into a Ambercromie and Fitch wearing 2nd hand clothing. The second you walk in, a record scratches off the turntable and everyone soon glares at you as if you dont belong.

If your going to open up seasonal stores, stock cheap booze as people are going to mix it up with other stuff and at that point, it doesnt matter if its 30$ bottle or a 100$ bottle. Oh and DONT staff it with stuck up prissy bitches.

"You only work in a shop, you can drop the attitude", Edina Monsoon.
Being open to special request orders would be a nice change. Right now, if there's an esoteric brand that you know is available in other states, you just can't get it here. Period. If they'd be willing to place special orders, that would help a lot. Not everyone wants to drink the same 10 brands of mediocre liquor.
@7 oh you can special order stuff. Just be ready to buy a whole case of it.
1.) Open stores inside the private grocery stores. Keep them open the hours that are open the hours that beer and wine sales are open. Charge all you want, and tax the he'll out of it, but get rid of the headcount and overhead, and make it more convenient.

2.) eliminate the "enforcement" division, and let
cops and zoning regulations handle that. Put the money saved into social services.

3.) eliminate the "prevention" division, and put all the money that is currently spent on nonsense (posters, etc) into REAL treatment programs.
catalina vel-duray is smart.
Selection, selection, selection. What I miss about the liquor stores in MA is that some of them were run by people who really cared about what they were doing. The one in Davis Square was run like a neighborhood bookstore, with friendly staff, lots of handwritten recommendations on the shelves, and a buyer who really enjoyed beer and liquor and went out of his way to get unusual and good stuff for his customers. They asked me what I liked and why, and explained their buying decisions to me. Having that store near where I lived turned me into a much more informed and enthusiastic buyer of booze.

I'm not sure how you can get that with state-run stores, but there's got to be some kind of incentive program for the store managers. Give them more control over how they stock their stores and how they hire, and let them try to cultivate a customer base.
@6: I think you missed the point of the seasonal store: for people who want to buy nice bottles of booze as gifts, not rotgut for college students to mix in your party punch.
Maybe they could dress the places up a little more to get rid of the Soviet vibe? A little paint, some pictures, wood/laminate flooring, perhaps even some music?

And why not do tastings (obviously, with very small amounts)? How about an in-house mixologist creating mini-cocktails that customers can try, and get recipes for drinks they can serve at their party? Or some kind of online resource available in the shop to help people get creative (and buy more liquor)?

I kind of can't blame them since I imagine the rent at Pacific Place is not cheap.

However, it really pisses me off that at many of the state liquor stores you can only find nice, interesting, esoteric liquor during the holidays. The rest of the year, it's the same old boring shit.
Help out wholesale customers by offering delivery (for all) and billing terms (on credit approval).

For both wholesale and retail customers, allow special orders in amounts less than an entire case.

Open more stores (I live in Columbia City; my options are Georgetown, which means the drive is up, across and back down Beacon Hill, or a light rail to & from downtown, carrying many pounds of glass and booze.), and have all the shops open from 10am to 10pm daily, including Sundays.

Actively promote our new regional distilleries, both by creating special retail displays and by changing the state liquor tax code to make the prices lower for WA-grown booze. (The state can absolutely offer tax-based protections for booze, it's totally legal, thanks to the weirdness of liquor rules in this country.) If the tax rate was 25% on Washington distilleries and the current 50+ percent on other brands, that'd be good all around, and should be an easy bipartisan sell.
Single bottle special orders. It's a pain in the ass to order over the internet, but I will and I do and the state gets bupkus.
Later hours is key. It freaking blew my mind when our local store started closing at 7. It's the one government office that will literally make more money than it costs for every hour later that it's open - why would you close it at 7? That was pretty much what got me to vote yes on 1100.
Don't run them as though their primary purpose was to limit access and protect all citizens from the scourge of demon rum. Run them like a business whose goal is to sell its product (within reasonable legal limits).

Open all the stores longer hours, and on Sundays. It's legal to sell booze until 2 am--why do all the liquor stores here have to close by 10 pm, and most of them earlier? You're not stopping the committed alcoholics and problem drinkers from getting their supply--they're always going to make damn sure they don't run out. Your short, stingy hours are only cutting into sales and inconveniencing the casual customer who decides, spur of the moment, to bake a rum cake some evening, or make a pitcher of margaritas on a Sunday afternoon.

Make it easier--or possible at all--to buy exotic specialty products, and without having to buy a whole case. Your selection at most stores is limited to the most mainstream popular brands. Expand all the stores' stock a little. Have at least a few more stores that stock weirder, more interesting stuff, and make it easier to figure out which ones those are. And make it reasonable for customers to order things that their local store doesn't carry, in quantities that they can afford and will actually drink before the next millennium.

Keep restricting access to people who are adults and not already wasted--but start treating those customers like adults, and allow them to make their own choices about purchase and consumption. You don't need to make so many of them for us.
Eliminate the stupid requirement that bars have to register with one store and get all their product from that store. It's pointlessly inefficient. Let bars have that flexibility.

Other than that? Hours, hours, hours. The 12-5 Sunday hours are crap. Like Fnarf said, let them stay open until at least 10, seven days a week. Hell, why not midnight on Fridays and Saturdays? I'm one of those people that Goldy describes in his post: address the convenience issue, and I could give fuck-all about privatization.
Competitive hours in alignment with nearby retail. If that means 10a-10p, then hire up to match that. Allow for orders of given items of less than a case in size.

Selection. But at this point, I doubt anything will change. They have no incentive to change.
What others have said: Brand availability. Allow stores to buy direct from small distillers, or to request purchases. It should be easy to apply the state markup and taxes to special orders like that.
Vastly improve customer service. The last time I was in a store, I saw a bottle from a favorite winery. I asked the nearest clerk if they had anything else of theirs. He said "Oh, I don't know. I don't drink wine." I said thanks for sharing, left without spending any money, and ordered online from the winery.
@13. . . that's I was thinking. . . don't make the state stores fell like you're in the DMV. . . AND you're committing a crime.
A lot of great feedback here folk, and I intend to forward your comments on to both legislators and the Liquor Control Board. Keep 'em coming.
More hours, more brands, better informed and more engaged clerks. Better service for the restaurants that are ordering special booze.
Sell the rights. Do anything but give them away.
You know, privatization would result in the realization of all these improvements. The market really is good for some things.
@22 - It's government work. There's no such thing as improving customer service in government work. But yeah, if the state is going to be selling things in stores, it'd be nice if they operated their businesses like businesses rather than like the DMV, and that would involve training a knowledgeable and helpful staff.
Great idea! With all the new revenue the government has I'm sure there will be plenty left to hire more workers to tackle these solutions. Wait, what's that? Oh, we /cut/ taxes and are starving the state?
lower their prices. duh
I'm not sure this is rocket science... Catalina's got great ideas above, and I'm sure there are other improvements that could be made but a large number of Yes voters want two simple things -- more convenient ACCESS to liquor and LOWER PRICES. I don't think the average consumer cares how that's accomplished.
It's hard enough finding variety in Seattle. Imagine how hard it is to find anything but Monarch and Smirnoff in, say, Ephrata.
the state needs to respond QUICKLY? this state? washington? you are a funny guy.
I agree on extended hours and better selection (though the store I frequent generally stocks specialty stuff, and the guy who runs it is nice, helpful and will special order a case for you without you having to buy the whole thing if he thinks he can sell the other bottles (and he generally can)).

I would like to add website improvements. Currently on the LCB website you can actually track every single bottle of liquor in stock in the state....if you know where to look, it's quite buried and currently hard to use. This database could be an excellent resource for people looking for the rare stuff if they made it user friendly.
Glad I don't live in Ferry County. There's one store in the whole fucking county.
Lower prices. Longer hours. Only hire attractive, competent staff.
I opposed both initiatives.

But we need the State out of the liquor business and we need comprehensive liquor law reform. Unless we get both in one year I'll be working with a group of people who will build a coalition of small business owners, retailers and citizens to craft an initiative that WILL pass. It'll allow the State to make money and have far more controls than 1100 or 1105, but it will take them out of the business and require reforms to the LCB.

Legislature - do your jobs now please. We elected you to get some work done. Liquor law reform is part of that and you need to take this on NOW.
I voted against both initiatives.

Meinert is right.

At the very least they need to open WSLCB "stores" inside grocery stores and keep them open until 9pm at least. That's what they do in BC and it works really well.

And in rural areas, maybe admit they need a DIFFERENT method. Sometimes you only have one store for 20 miles that sells anything. Cut them some slack.
@35, Ferry County has less than half the population of Wallingford, which had no liquor store at all for several years. Even now, you can stick a pin in a map of Seattle and stand an excellent chance of finding areas with more than 7,000 people (the population of Ferry County) and no liquor store.
carry more international brands.

start with a good selection of shochu
For myself, I'd like to see every state-run Liquor Store keep one prominent shelf empty, with a sign, "Legalized Recreation Drugs" with perhaps a petition for marijuana legalization, until such time as they can properly stock it.

@16 As your unofficial, unlicensed, unsolicited, internet tax advisor, it is my solemn duty to remind you that you probably owe use tax on those items and on any freight, delivery, or shipping charges paid to the seller.


Use tax is due if:
Goods are purchased in another state that does not have a sales tax or a state with a sales tax lower than Washington’s. For example, items you purchase in Oregon that are used in Washington are subject to use tax.

Goods are purchased from someone who is not authorized to collect sales tax. For example, purchases of furniture from an individual through a newspaper classified ad or a purchase of artwork from an individual collector.

Goods are purchased out of state by subscription, through the Internet, or from a mail order catalog company. Many of these companies collect Washington’s sales tax, but if the company from which you order does not, you owe the use tax.

Personal property is acquired with the purchase of real property.

You can pay online or by paper.
I boycott businesses whose owners came out against 1100. Do the same. I support businesses whose owners, like Linda Derschang and Tom Douglas, came out in favor of 1100. Do the same.
What everyone else is saying - stay open until at least 10:00 pm seven days a week, and open more stores. Have some stores open until midnight 6 nights a week or at least Thursday, Friday & Saturday. More reasonable prices would be nice, too, but honestly I think if it wasn't such a goddamned pain in the ass to buy liquor here I wouldn't care so much that it's overpriced.

Also, I don't understand why they only stock the most obvious/middle of the road brands and flavors in the mini bottles. That doesn't make any sense. If they sold the newer, more interesting/exotic liquors in mini bottles you could try a bit first before investing in an entire bottle. Duh.
@39 True enough, but I can find a liquor store within two miles of anywhere in Wallingford. If I live in Danville I have to drive for an hour. Not that I'd live in Danville for a pension and a harem. But there are cases where allowing a mom and pop store to sell a few bottles of liquor do make sense.
the state should operate liquor stores like, they are, well, retail stores and not prison garrisons ... they should be well designed, merchandised and stocked. There should be things like olives, cherries, mixers, they should have stores that offer classes where great bartenders come in an offer tips on how to mix interesting drinks. Staff should be knowledgable and there should be tasting notes on the various liqueurs and obscure/artisan liquors. They should feature distillers and run specials on entire product lines, .. say Clear Creek, stocking the full line and cocktail recipes using their product during the promotion. .. these are just off the top of my head.They really need to make the stores places you want to go to and enjoy shopping in .. they need to drop "Control" from both the name and the philosophy.
@16 yup! And places like even give you free shipping on orders over 100 bucks.

Then it was a complete failure as most people walked into that store thinking they could get a bottom shelf bottle of cheap booze. Most people who walked in there, spent a few mintues, then walked out unimpressed.

Makes sense for a last minute gift, but im basically going to buy an expensive bottle outside the state and save 50$.
They could help us celebrate by temporarily dropping the price on popular brands.

Also, what Rotten666 @2 said.
Better opening hours and better selection of hooch.
In Oregon, there's a limited number of stores, and the stores are operated privately. While the operator can only be open a certain number of hours per week, the operator can choose those hours. Otherwise, it's a state monopoly like Washington.
I wanted one of the initiatives to pass, but apparently the rest of the state disagreed with me. Fuck it, leave this crappy system alone. High prices, crappy stores, lack of quantity & quality, keep it all. This state is too stupid to change.
I voted against both initiatives this year; however, I am for the general idea behind them; things need to change. If the state has done nothing by next election and a slightly smarter and financially responsible initiative comes on the ballot, I will be voting for it.
Expose their data to developers so you don't have to scrape their site like I did.

Speaking of which if you want to use the iphone app I created search for Washington State Liquor Locator in the app store or follow this link:…

I have ideas for v2 of the app like including product pictures, and filtering the search based on your location and what stores are currently open. If you have other ideas I'd love to hear them.
Expanded, uniform hours at all locations. Period.

Nothing worse than having only 4 different stores in driving distance, all of which have 4 different opening and closing times.
Someone said "if you don't get your drink you want before 7 maybe you shouldn't be drinking that night". And while I agree....

What about bars using that as an opportunity to get drunk at their place of business rather than the liquor store? Like, put out signs that say "I know you wanted to get drunk at home alone but why not cry with the other sad blokes in our fine establishment!"
Well, they could sell spliffs.

And tasty eatables. (OMG-Lemon Bars!!! E-e-e-e-z-y...)

And then, they could have COPS waiting right outside the door -- to bust you and fine you, heavily! It'd be just like A Tax, and they could re-sell the pot! While you're scratchin' your head (and Bubba's!!!) in the Joint!

Everybody wins!!! Except you. Get used to it.
@16, @46 - I've had a horrible time finding liquor sellers on the Internet that will ship to Washington state. I had it in my head that they weren't allowed to?
What 9 said
Nothing like Sloggers giving all these wonderful ideas to government-run liquor stores. Longer hours! In grocery stores! Foreign brands!

Hey  morons, it's GOVERNMENT-run. They don't have to satisfy ‘customers’ needs. If you want decent hours, better selection, better location...well, fuck you! We're the state!

Now do you understand how socialism works?