Friday, November 11, 2011

Costco spends $22 million to privatize liquor sales in Washington

A ballot measure that would allow grocery stores and warehouse clubs to sell liquor in Washington state beginning June 1, 2012 passed earlier this week. A bill that will allow the privatization of liquor sales in Pennsylvania has been talked about for some time, but many feel it's unlikely such a measure will pass here anytime soon, despite a recent state-commissioned study that concluded the state's liquor stores should be privatized. (See my 7/29/11 blog post - Privatization of liquor sales would create opportunity for supermarkets.)

Washington residents can thank Costco for the measure's passage. According to multiple reports, the warehouse club raised $22 million for the Yes campaign, a coalition formed to promote the measure and convince residents to vote yes. In all, the campaign raised $23 million. Other supporters included Safeway and Trader Joe's.

Washington joins West Virginia and Iowa as the latest states to transition away from state run liquor stores.

According to sponsors of the measure, stores in Washington state that sell liquor will have to be 10,000 square feet or more. Retail stores approved for licenses will pay 17% of their gross revenues from liquor sales to the state, while distributors will pay 10% for the first two years and 5% thereafter.

Costco, if you have another $22 million handy, would you consider throwing it towards privatization in Pennsylvania? All I want is the ability to mix and match a case of beer. Please?

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