Washington State Liberalizes Liquor Sales

Supermarkets and other retailers start selling liquor in Washington State today! The final legal obstacle was overcome yesterday when those who benefited from the old patronage system lost their appeal to the Washington Supreme Court.

Washington has been a “control state” for almost eighty years. So people could only buy liquor like vodka and whiskey at state-owned stores. And even though we could buy beer and wine at grocery stores, archaic rules prevented them from using modern retailing practices. Retailers weren’t allowed to manage their inventory in warehouses, for example, and producers weren’t allowed to offer quantity discounts. Both were forced to go through privileged distributors.

Most of that is gone now that voters approved, and the court upheld, Initiative 1183 – I’ll drink to that!

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2 thoughts on “Washington State Liberalizes Liquor Sales

  1. Matt

    The biggest problem, as a WA resident, is that the legislature somehow decided that we also wanted a $3.77 per liter tax added, and a 20.5% sales tax added that applies specifically to spirits and spirit-containing products (such as premixed margaritas).

    Now, that $10 fifth of whiskey is actually going to cost you $15.

    Unfortunate, but honestly it is STILL better than having the State run the liquor stores.

  2. Erroll Post author

    I’m not happy with the new tax either, Matt, but you’re right – it’s still a big improvement over a state run monopoly.


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