Columns Jun 13, 2012 at 4:00 am

Booze Blues


I live in a state where liquor used to only be sold in state-owned stores. It's much better this way, trust me.
I am really glad I spent the last 6 months stocking up on booze from the liquor store. I have yet to find a place currently selling liquor that I would consider buying from.
baseline price is the same, its the damn 20% tax that will last for the next two years that sucks. But in the long run, well worth getting the state out of the liquor business
Yeah, but Costco has some pretty good top-shelf stuff.
I'm really glad that I get back that extra hour of my week where I don't have to travel to a shitty store. It's worth that extra dollar to me. Sucks to be you.
I feel for you. I was also a state employee who got laid off a year ago due to budget cuts. But you know what? So were a lot of other people. There have been thousands of layoffs of state workers in Washington in the past few years. Services far more essential than providing booze to the masses have been cut. The state's budget was (and is) in tatters, and it won't get better without additional revenues. By at least some reports, privatizing liquor sales might actually help a little. But even if it doesn't...why should state liquor store employees be special and untouchable? I feel bad for the buggy whip makers, too, but when their jobs became obsolete, they had to move on. It sucks for you, I agree, but you're just going to have to do the same.
Author seems to be mixing up correlation with causation. Possibly people are just buying more booze because it's more readily available and the stock hasn't yet kept up with demand. Doesn't mean prices will stay high once the market levels out.

If the only thing keeping a liquor store open was their license monopoly then they were really weren't serving the public much.
Dear Anon,

I knew exactly what I was doing when I voted in favor of this.

No love,

some random asshole on the internet
Who'd ever in a million years have guessed that requiring a profit margin be built into prices would cause them to go up? It'll be so lovely when EVERYONE has to work for minimum wage to keep those profits up!
Yeah, I voted for this JUST so you could lose your job Anon. LOL!!!! Now I am going to go back TO MY JOB THAT PAYS ME MONEY!!!!! Yeah BIOTCH!!!!
Sucks to be you. You should go to a grocery store and buy a bottle of liquor to cry over. I NEVER WANTED YOU.
Whoa! You're harshing my buzz!
@6 you probably shouldn't advertise you spend an hour a week travelling to liquor stores and back. Douche.
Oh, you thought voters were mostly progressives and understood how privatization works? Oh, okay.

Sure, it was stupid to assume that prices would stay the same and it was definitely idiotic to assume you and hundreds of others would have their jobs spared.

...but you know what? It doesn't matter. You aren't going to win against privatization on this scale. To come back and attempt to humanize the problem is too little, too late. You and the campaign against privatization didn't really make this a human issue, the campaigns just talked about crime vs. convenience.

If people are so concerned with privatization, they'd learn about it. They aren't, they won't, you lose.
Yeah the people working for state liquor stores were treated a lot better than people that work at Costco.

My biggest thing is just that every argument for this bill is bullshit. If the bill were just run on the fact that it would it be easier to get alcohol for people over 21 i'd be totes down.

However.... The bill was spun to say somehow this will make it harder for underaged drinking in general which is just bullshit. Also, when any one company puts 23 million down on a bill I assume it's not because the owner of costco gives a fuck about people in Washington having better liquor access. Obviously its just better for Costco, which pays way less taxes then it should, lies, and puts signature gatherers at it's front doors.

This was a stupid fucking bill. I'm not saying that because I think it makes sense for the state to be in the liquor business but I think the reasons the bill was run on were complete bullshit. I don't need to rebute your counter claims as I've already thought of them and just.. no.
Democracy is great until you lose, then it is childish name calling and wah wah waaaaaaah.

You say you are laughing your ass off, while at the same time crying "woe is me" about being unemployed.

You worked in a liquor store yet decried drinking as just being a way to forget about the kids.

Grow up, li'l hypocrite.
Actually it was about the state selling it, it has no business doing so. And yes the convenience was a factor, and its not like prices went up that much.
The entire situation is the fault of an out of touch puritanical liquor control board who couldn't see the writing on the wall, couldn't think out of the box and--as shown by their recent decision about bar closing times--still can't.

It's time to shut the LCB down!
Sorry you lost your job Anon, but you aren't alone in that. I voted for this bill for one reason only. THE STATE HAS NO BUSINESS BE A REGULATOR AND RETAILER.
Even left-leaners were telling me, when I pointed out the loss of jobs from the initiative, that the loss of jobs would be made up in hires at stores because they will need more people to handle the stocking and sales of the new products.

Really. Have they never been overworked? It's called blood from a stone, and it's the current preferred business model. No one is going to drop dime on extra employees when they can just pile it on top of the workload of their existing employees.

Also, selection is now complete and utter shit.

Thanks, retards who voted for this. Enjoy your Popov and Monarch, and fuck you.

PS. Maybe if we start to see actual liquor stores pop up, that specialize in broad selection, we'll start to see the alleged benefits of 1105. But I'm not seeing that. I'm seeing supermarkets and drugstores stocking the bare minimum -- popular name brands and bottom-shelf crap, of a handful of only the most common liquor types. I managed to buy a bottle of Douglas Fir Brandy at the WSLCB store in FW a couple years ago. And I've bought Chartreuse, absinthe, 10cane, and more. I'm not likely to be finding that at Albertsons, sharing shelf space with Pinnacle and Sailor Jerry. :P
Why don't we all just wait a year or two before passing judgement on this
i'm sorry you lost your job anon. that sucks.
I find it amusing to see progressives suddenly become uber free marketeers when it comes to a product they want. Get the state out of XXXXXX. Can we do away with the state selling car tabs? The nice people in the shady office on Aurora are so much easier to get to, and they only charge us $10 extra.
going down to the state milk store, then the state cookie store, then the state frozen pizza store...just think of all the jobs we could create with a separate state store for everything.
Can't say I've heard that laughter, but maybe that's because I'm happy that the WSLCB has had a stake driven through its heart. And I didn't even vote for the initiative.
Car tabs are a tax, not a product.
Slightly related: BevMo is going to opening stores in Washington soon, starting with Tacoma.
Came here to say what @7 said, but more rudely. Thanks, @7!
Let us know when cars, houses, boats, clothes or candy cause disease and crime. At least state revenues are up, for now.
@22, sorry you chose to live by an Albertsons, the Grocer of Choice for Crackheads.

Otherwise, you're welcome.
@ 25, your characterization of progressives turning "ΓΌber free marketers" is so far off the mark that your entire opinion can be dismissed out of hand. But then again, comparing a necessary state function (car tabs) to an actual enterprise accomplished that, too.
So now I'm going to have to drive to Tacoma instead of a few blocks away to get a decent selection? Huge fucking improvement!
@ 22 You mad, bro?
@ 25 Being liberal and believing in the free market solution are not mutually exclusive, its not like we are socialists here.
The anti-alcohol "community" "safety" dickholes should have been supporting the hell out of this initiative, because I, for one, sure as hell can't afford to drink liquor any more.

Seriously, QFC, fuck yourselves. I am not paying $60 for a fifth of Bulleit. And fuck you shortsighted cockmongers who voted for the initiative, too.

@21, not even if it demonstrably makes the state a better place to live? Because so far this initiative has just shitted up everything.
wah wah have to drive to get your special items. Does the Fred Meyer or Albertsons carry most of my everyday needs, Yes. However, when I have an inkling to make some Thai food at home I have to drive to another town to get the ingredients.

Do you realize how fucking big a grocery store would need to be to carry all the crap everyone "needs"?
@ 37 How does cheaper booze make a place better to live? I'm not saying outlaw booze but I fail to see how it makes a place better to live by being cheaper.
Really? This one initiative has "shitted up everything"? Cause you know the state was doing just dandy before.

I still think if you give it 6 months things will shake out, and booze prices will be on par with what they were before (even with the higher taxes).
Progressive doesn't mean keeping people in jobs just to keep them in jobs.

You do something it makes sense for the government to do, like teach students, keep the public healthy and safe, and keep common infrastructure working = A-OK.

You do something the government has no business in, like flog booze or do anything in the retail sector = Dumb.

Sorry about the job, man. But the writing has been on the wall since the failure of prohibition.


No, really. Give it up, hon. Imagine a world where you have to go one place for bread, another for milk, and still another for laundry detergent. Would you care that employees of these places were getting $40K and up a year for ringing you up and that that could be in jeopardy if someone thought up something more convenient?
@14 I know! I shouldn't advertise that I get to spend that extra hour jizzing all over your mom's face either.
First, any time you work in sales and complain about your job (during it, losing it, what happens at it, etc), people who have NO CLUE will treat you like garbage. Happened to me every time I talked about my retail jobs. "Just quit!" or "Get a real job" or "Quit bitching, at least you're working!". Always the same, people are jerks.

Second, I knew this would happen and voted NO. So few considered the added unemployment, but those same will curse the president for it. People don't care about consequences of their votes, they want their booze and they want it NOW.

PS - I hope they increase the tax on it to pay for the stupid new basketball stadium everyone suddenly wants.
Wow- Many cynical, selfish people on here. "Sucks to be you" is so 90s. "Sucks to be you" is a typical First World response to other people's concerns. Who taught you haters to talk that way and under what circumstances? Adolescent and mean-spirited. Sad.
At least I can finally buy booze without being told to get off my Cell Phone, or to leave my backpack behind the counter. Worst part - you were a monopoly, so I had no choice but to do these ridiculous things.

Maybe you guys should have treated your customers better.

I for one will miss the recondite intellectual heft of a conversation with a WSLCB store employee.
Bev Mo is coming...

Liquor Barn too, if we're extra lucky.

Hang in there, sad sacks.
@22 Wow, so you're going to start screeching bloody murder because you can't find your uber trendy, top-shelf liquor less than a month after grocery stores start selling? Maybe have some fucking patience and wait for all this to settle- Giant liquor stores with insane selection will open, and if you live in a hipster/douchebag neighborhood your local grocery store will start stocking good shit because there's a demand.
@42 Going to different stores for different items, bread, cheese, meat, wine, olive oil, vegetables from the market etc. is one of the best parts of living here in Europe. Sure you pay a bit more and you have to actually make the effort to move your ass from one shop to the next, but the service and expertise you get is about a thousand times better than at a grocery store.

Sometimes it would be nice if some people weren't lazy dickholes, and instead thought about their communities and the people working and living in them in a more holistic way...
@50 - and if I lived in Europe, I would certainly enjoy shopping that way. I would enjoy walking to each and every store and doing my best to support those shops who go the extra mile in customer service and inventory. But you can't walk everywhere here in America - particularly here on the West Coast whose cities were more or less designed and implemented after the invention of the automobile. The green grocer can be 10 km this way and the wine merchant is 8 km that way. You'd literally spend all day just shopping, walking, or riding public transportation.
@42 Not implying that you're a dickhole, I just got a bit carried away with the insults after reading all of the previous insults being thrown around by others, and then from the safety of my anonymity decided to react as well to these fucking dingle berry munching.... see there I go again!
@50 I was just being a dick really. I've lived in the US so I appreciate the differences between there and here. Lots of good progress on the West coast in Portland and Seattle. You're able to bike to a lot of places, which is cool. Perhaps one day run all of your errands if the trend continues. Good luck pushing for more of that.
the state is out of the booze business, as it should be, and they are going to reap the rewards. In fact, they will probably come out making more in the long run by NOT running the stores. Isn't that a good thing for the state and its people?
...and it isn't that I don't care about the public employees getting the boot. But their age has passed. That's why there aren't many blacksmiths anymore. You can't keep bad or antiquated practices in place because of its employees. When the "Do Not Call" Act was passed - a telemarketing law that permitted people to bow out of harassing sales calls and robo-calls (another annoyance), one of the first arguments against it was, "You are going to put a lot of people out of work!" Yeah, and I'm sorry, but you know what? They needed to find other work - less annoying work - anyway.

Hate that they are out of work (if they are), but now maybe they can do something meaningful with their lives.
I am sorry you lost your job. That said, when I moved to CA the only thing I liked better than avocados on everything was booze in every corner and grocery store.

The market will correct, and prices will be better for this.
If the state hadn't made buying liquor so needlessly inconvenient (stores closing at 8pm or earlier, stores not open on Sundays, locations that were few and far between), maybe people would have voted differently.

Not that any of that's your fault, Anonymous, but all had been complaints for years that were never addressed - well, except for a handful of blessed locations that had limited Sunday hours (none anywhere near me). It was easy to get the impression that the WSLCB didn't give a crap about its customers. And, really - why should they have? There certainly was no financial incentive to convenience them.

That said, I do miss my local state store. (Ha! "local" - it was four fucking miles from my house, and I live in Seattle proper!) The people who staffed it were cool and knew their stuff. The prices? I'm willing to pay a couple bucks more for convenience, thanks.
I voted for it in November, and I'd vote for it again. It was a dumb, antiquated system. The whole liquor control division is. They held the state's wine industry back for decades with needless regulation and selective distribution.

Now if we can just finish off the WSLCB, we might actually become the "vibrant", "world class" city we supposedly aspire to be,
Bring it on down to Liquorville!
Or maybe we voted because of the crabby, don't care attitude by many of the employees at the State Liquor stores (looking at you, Northgate).

It's not called customer service for nothing.
@22, I did see that product at the Kamilche Trading post, but that is a ways to go. They also had lavender, lemongrass, and something else. Though I gotta say, being Native American myself, I'm not fond of the idea of the reservations serving, let alone selling, liquor.
I'm so sorry that you lost your ability to make $20+ an hour stocking shelves because you spent years taking advantage of an antiquated state-run monopoly.
Actually, hutch, clerks started at $11 or so an hour, and topped out at $16 or so. They were not particularly good wages, especially for union scale.
I wonder if the guy who wrote This post is that asshole at the Broadway store who looked like Ron Jeremy and harangued shoppers about their inferior selections. Yeah I know Makers Mark isn't amazing, but it's being mixed in a drink, fucker.
The state has every right to regulate but the stores are a bit extreme. Anyone voting for the bill thinking it would automatically lower prices should have their heads examined. I'm willing to believe some people didn't care. I don't see how it's better this way at all with all the hidden fees the new exclusive businesses that continue to use the same crappy practices I try to avoid in the market place. I'm sure it can only get better/cheaper/faster but we could have done this better even if we don't have to believe in the idea that the government could regulate a product enough to be the only one "allowed" to sell it.
I'm against privatization when it comes to entities that should be held in the public trust like libraries but for alcohol? Come on, that's ridiculous! There was no need for people to make a special trip just to purchase it. I'm sorry I anon is now out of work but alcohol sales are not a public service that should be handled by the government. As for your selection and prices I hope that evens out for you soon. Even here in Los angeles I have to visit special shops to find the very best but it's wonderfully convenient that I can buy all of the ingredients for a party at one store.
@51 "But you can't walk everywhere here in America - particularly here on the West Coast whose cities were more or less designed and implemented after the invention of the automobile."

What a fucking idiot. History isn't just for kids anymore. There is a book at the library for you. Check it out.
Never met a state liq store employee who wasn't a dumpy and dour little prick. Glad you're out of a job, asshole.
I certainy haven't experienced any convenience. None of the liqour stores on Cap Hill or downtown carry even one of the 4 brands I like to keep on hand at home for entertaining. Paying for a Costco membership, standing in those lines, driving over there in order to buy a bottle of liquor for a party is also the opposite of convenience. For those of you who keep shouting that it is just WRONG for a state to sell liquor, my you have rigid ideas. Capitalism does not equal physics. Markets aren't sub-atomic particles. Economic decisions are arbitrary, not immutable. Humans can make choices. In this case people made a choice which costs more money for less selection locally.
Hello! Bitter, party of one!
@41, well put! That's exactly where I fall. After all, progressives are also anti-monopoly. (We want good public schools--we don't want to outlaw private schools.)
I am of course sorry you lost your job, anon. That really, really sucks.

@ 67, @ 51 tells the truth. San Francisco was the only big city out West in the 20s, with LA growing rapidly, when cars became ubiquitous and urban planning began to adapt to it.

Follow your own advice. Check out a book at the library and read up, and bite your tongue before displaying your own egregious ignorance.
I run a bar and am SO GLAD I don't have to deal with the incompetent, lazy and MISERABLE State workers anymore. You guys really sucked and deserved this! Now my bar is able to buy in liters that keeps my cost down. Yay!
Retail prices ARE actually better, just so everyone knows. It's the ridiculous state taxation (two separate taxes per bottle of hooch, coming to just over 40% on average) added to this bill that makes it more expensive this way.

Agreed Washington's budget is a complete debacle. Maybe this new revenue from taxation will help things, but history tells me "no". Unless they make sweeping changes to how they approach spending initiatives, Washington will continue to hemhorrage money into programs they can't afford as fast or faster than they can bring it in.
"Y'all?" What kind of countrified horseshit is that? This IA demonstrates exactly why even a cruddy reform represented an improvement over the status quo, where people were forced to deal with anons like this idiot.
Don't drink. Don't care.
I feel for Anon. The workers really got the short end of the stick on this change. I can't understand the voters in this state. I love living here, but I'll never be able to consider myself FROM here.
At least I can buy liquor after 8 pm now - when I moved to WA, it seemed weird that you had to plan way ahead if you wanted to have a real drink.
i just miss the very nice real change vendor who used to be outside of my local liquor store with his super cute dog.
So now the state sells malt liquor......I do hope they now provide the cocaine to go along with it.
Pfth. People chose to pass the bill with the extra markup for the state in it, not the previous one that would have actually lowered the price. I'm sure it will go down some as the market settles, and the cut to the state drops to a lower level after a while.

That said, I've already seen things I'd never found at local liquor stores, and I haven't even made it to any of the places that said they'd be stocking specialty goods, like that one place in Wallingford.

I don't expect the local small grocery chain store to carry prime rib racks and Russian caviar, why should I expect them to carry an obscure brand of booze? However if I asked nicely, they might order it in for me. Try that instead of whining.

Here in NH the state liquor stores sell the hard booze and for the most part it is way less expensive than even duty free stores . . . Seems like a total win---Out of staters from MA, VT and ME stock up when they visit and contribute to the state coffers helping keep our tax burden low. Acting as both the retailer and wholesaler, the state makes more money than it would with just taxing the stuff even with the great prices. And the locals get a really good selection at extremely affordable prices.
A couple bucks extra per bottle that the state can spend on programs instead of sustaining a monopoly on a retail product? I'd vote for it again.
If people are can't take a 5$ or 6$ increase maybe they don't actually have money for alcohol.

The economy plus commodity prices caused local cafes to be stingy with extra shots in 16oz drinks, but there was no I Anonymous about that.
Holy SHIT, Batman!! The pop and bottled water aisle at Haggen's now has BOOZE---and pretty soon, a lot more drunks! I'm surprised this I, ANON hasn't yet gotten a post from Arthur Zefferelli---oh, wait--@82 beat him to it. Never mind.

Histrionics aside, I understood what to expect last November, and actually voted against this. Sorry, ANON, about your job loss. That really does suck, especially in this economy.

@84: Wow---good for you guys in New Hampshire! Too bad we're not doing anything like that here. NH's solution to booze sales sounds more sensible.
You guys were lazy and rude glad you finally got canned.
I just got back from Albertson's.

I am enjoying my 50% off rum.

Booze is cheaper now. Glad I voted for it.
Not everyone wants to go to a disgusting bar full of chauvinistic pigs and std ridden whores in tiny dresses. If I want to have a small party or a small kick back every once in a great while I'm not doing it in a bar, I'm doing it at home. and it's convenient for us NORMAL people who don't drink on a daily basis. I don't even drink once a month! Go to a fucking AA meeting you twat.

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