Privatizing Liquor Is on Our Ballot This fall...Now I Need Opinions

Updated on October 25, 2011
E.B. asks from Tacoma, WA
18 answers

So this November the State of Washington is trying to Privatized Liquor sales.

We have always had our Liquor stores run by the State. Meaning you can not walk into a Safeway/Vons, Fred Meyer/Kroger...and buy Hard Liquor.

You can buy Beer and Wine out side of that anywhere pretty much.

I am so torn. Because Privatizing it in some peoples minds will help create jobs. But it will be taking jobs away from those State Employees who are in the Liquor stores right now. and they have no back up plan for getting those people back to work.

The other thing is that...It does not mean that they will create new jobs if they are just allowed to now sell in places that already exist.

If you Live in a state where Liquor is Privatized...Do you like it? Do you not like it? I need Pro's and Con's....My husband is voting it neighbor's are voting to Privatize...and now hearing both sides of WHY they want it either way makes good sense when they explain it...And my indecision on it is making me not want to vote either way...because I feel both ways.

The initiative is 1183(in case you want to look it up). The wording in it make it very hard to follow reading it for myself...SO I am hoping you can lend opinions on the matter with your states personal Laws.

Any insight would be great!!

We actually have certain Stores that ARE open on Sundays...This happened about two years ago.

There is nothing Stopping the state employees from getting jobs in say the Grocery Stores they would be selling at....But I just dont see there being a enough need for more people out there if they DO Privatize....Because they will figure out how to cover with who they have on the payroll already...I dont see them hiring ALL the state employee's displaced if we do vote to Privatize.

My other Question since it was brought up...How does your State combat youth drinking?? It is hard to say whether or not it will increase if Privatized. My though has always been if a Teen is determined to get booze they will find a way...regardless of where it is sold.

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So What Happened?

There is a required Sq. Footage before they can sell the Hard as as well, here. SO I am not sure how well it will help out the mom and pop shops. I think it is 10,000 Sp ft...Which is pretty big.

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answers from Seattle on

Thank you for bringing this up. I'm in WA as well - and very conflicted. We buy hard alcohol (aside from wine/beer) on a VERY rare occasion. I have appreciated hearing the responses from the other states. I will continue to read :).

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answers from St. Louis on

My god public liquor sound just crazy.

Here is the thing with jobs. If jobs are allocated correctly when the demand shifts private that same number of jobs will be needed. An employee on the public payroll cannot ring a sale any faster than someone on a private payroll. The same laws of physics still apply.

If there were more jobs than needed under the public system then the excess jobs will be lost. That isn't a bad thing mind you, five people should not be paid to do the work or four of three. In the private market the three or four that were doing all the work will find the jobs since they already know how to do the job. The freeloader will find somewhere else to freeload.

The state most likely wants to shift it to private to save the money they are paying to those that don't actually work but don't want to be the bad guys. This way they can save the money but blame the market.

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answers from Santa Barbara on

Responding to the response below, just because it is in a grocery store doesn't mean there are easy going checkers that will just let an underage sale go through. It is a law and their job to check IDs (remember all the happy 40something mamas last week). The bottles of hard stuff is also covered with an anti-theft device that must be removed in the store.

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answers from Chicago on

I just have some random thoughts...

To me, having state-run liquor stores seems archaic and a fragment of Prohibition.

What kind of hours do the state-run stores offer versus grocery stores/liquor stores?

What is stopping the state-store employees from applying for work at the grocery stores, in their new liquor departments? I am sure it is mostly because they don't want to lose their state-pensions (my dad is a gov't employee, and I know that his benefits and pension are the only things that tie him to his job.)

Going along with Obama-admin thinking--wouldn't the renovations required to add liquor departments to existing stores, and the possibility for new stand-alone liquor stores provide opportunities for construction jobs?

Here in IL, it is private, but each village/township/city sets hours for when they can start selling it. It seems incrediby stupid to me, that I can't pick up beer for the weekend (we rarely even drink anything at our home--just for guests) when I am doing my morning grocery shopping, and have to wait to come back til the afternoon.

ETA: The stores could be renovated so that the liquor portion was in a separate area with controlled access--like a turnstyle, or just one door, so that the employees in that dept can have better control over the inventory.

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answers from Washington DC on

Here in Northern VA our liquor is State managed as well.

We have "ABC" stores that sell hard liquor. Like you - I see the up and down sides...but I don't like the state/government telling me what to do or where to buy it.

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answers from Portland on

I will be voting no on this initiative. If hard liquor is made available in grocery stores and corner markets, it becomes easier for minors to get it because they can steal it or get it through a checker that will let the rules slide. I think it is watched more carefully in liquor stores so people who shouldn't have it won't get least as often as it would happen if it was privatized. I don't think this will provide more jobs because the work will be absorbed by the current employees of the stores it is sold in.

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answers from Charlotte on

Added - you are right Christine - I actually was thinking more in terms of the convenience marts rather than the grocery store for what you are bringing up about the checkers, but I didn't write it down. And they ARE supposed to check ID's everytime, but the guys in the convenience stores don't always do it. That's how my friends in high school all those many years ago bought beer. Anyway... I was really just saying that I thought it was harder to get ahold of it if it's sold in the ABC stores...

I've lived in states with both. Down in the South, some states have "blue light laws" (I don't know why they call them that!) that says you can't sell beer or wine until after 1:00 on Sundays. Silly, really.

To be honest, from the consumer side, I haven't paid any attention to it, except to remember that I need to shop the other 6 1/2 days of the week if I'm in one of those states. Other than having to show my drivers license at the supermarket to buy beer (ha ha), I can't tell the difference.

The real difference has to do with all the other stuff, including whether the people work for the state or not. I do think it is probably harder to buy liquor underage at the ABC stores (government) than at the regular places where just anyone works the registers.

Sorry to not know more!

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answers from Augusta on

We are not an ABC control state. They sell beer and wine at the grocery store. and then we have liquor stores, but not state owned.
Carding is HUGE here.if you look like you MIGHT be under 40 they card you. Very stiff fines are paid out if you sell to under age. And the cops use teens to try to catch the violators.
BUT we also have laws that say you can't buy or sell alcohol on Sunday.
It really does not bother me that they aren't open on Sunday , Just get what you want on Saturday. If you forget oh well it's your own fault.

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answers from Houston on

Our community went through this a few years ago. I voted to keep it out of the grocery stores. Well, that didn't help and now all the grocery stores have hard liquor in them. Next thing that happened, liquor stores, 'tobacco' shops selling 'water bongs' (yeah right), and tattoo parlors popped up within a few months. All within less than 1 mile of elementary, middle and high schools. It really classed down the area down a lot. Not because I have anything about people with tattoos or who smoke, but because it brought all that junk much closer to home and made it more accessible. The new shops also were dirty and scummy looking, with lots of scummy looking people hanging around all hours of the night and day, broken beer bottles all in the parking lots.... A teen can get bongs, tattoos and alcohol anywhere, but why make it that much easier and *tempting* when he/she walks next to the store on their way to school every morning and afternoon? Maybe I am misunderstanding this prioritizing somehow, and confusing it with a 'dry area'?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

We have "state stores" for hard liquor and distributors for beer.

The only thing we need to remember is that most of the "state stores" are not open on Sundays. (Thus heading off those impulse hard-liquor binge buys, I guess.)

From my experience, the employees of these stores are way too plentiful and it is thought of as a "dream job" by many (state employee, many perks, low stress, etc.) I'm sure they have their busy times, but my personal impression is of extreme over-staffing and little need for it.

PLCB has been testing the selling of wine in kiosks at certain grocery store locations. Supposedly RIFE with issues and problems--even though it takes a picture of you during your purchase and determines if you are "of age"!

All I know is state controlled liquor sales mark up about 52%--about the same if privatized (27% distributors/retailers and 25% fees) would be about the same.

The jobs issue? Maybe less employees, overhead, etc. needed for the same distribution, the price will likely remain level and the convenience factor for consumers would go up. Maybe the elimination of some jobs would result in enforcement for under-age PA there are square foot restrictions for places that sell liquor--no convenience stores, small mom or pops stores, that a good thing, by the way?

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answers from Chicago on

I think state liquor is fascist. Mainly because if the state doesn't want to buy something it doesn't. Sorta like 'censorship' only unless you go outside your state and randomly buy specialty alcohol you don't know what your missing.

I liken it to the HMO gag laws of the 80s where the Drs weren't allowed to tell patients of other methods of treatment, only the treatment that was 'authorized' by their HMO.

Yes, I did just compare it to that.

I love St Germaine. If you've never had it - it's fabulous. 1/3 St Germain, 1/3 unflavored seltzer and 1/3 proseco (or your fave sparkeling wine). It is the MOST Fabulous summer cocktail. But the state of Iowa doesn't buy St Germain. So, in order to make this fabulous cocktail for my Aunt & Uncle's anniversary party I had to go back across the state line into Illinois to buy it. CRAZY. I did, though. Because it's that good.

I digress.

Politically, I guess, I don't think the state has the right to 'regulate' what the consumer can buy. If I want to drink a fat tire or a linenkuegel, and your state doesn't think I should then it's not for sale there. That, to me, speaks against the basic beliefs on what capitalism is all about. I should be able to buy whatever I want. And as a business owner I should be able to buy what my local customers want.

As far as the associates not having knowledge.... I actually find it to be quite the opposite. Binny's is the big liquor store here (think... the size of a Best Buy. Yep, it is). And you have your wine department. With wine people. Who know all about wine. And your whiskey department - where the guy knows which freakin island lagavulin comes from. And the vodka department. Well, you don't need any special schoolin' for that department.... but you catch my drift. I have found that the knowledge is so much better.

But there are lots of smaller liquor stores and wine bars in the city where the employees really know their stuff.

As far as easier or harder to get it underage? I don't think that makes a difference. State run or private the employee still has to ring up the sale.

In IL if you are under 21 a manager has to come over and actually physically ring the sale and type in their code, they don't even (or shouldn't) touch or bag the bottle. Do some break the rules and share codes? Sure, but that's because those employees are bad - not because the liquor was bought by the state before they could sell it.

I find in the city there is less underage drinking, because there is so much more to do as a teen. I was a teen in a rural town in southern Illinois and we drank underage all the time cuz there was nothing else to do. But we had older boys or siblings of our friends who were old enough buy it and then we drank it at the house. So, the store would have had no chance to stop it - we weren't anywhere near there. I mean, fairly obvious when 2 23 year old guys buy a couple fifths of peppermint schnapps, some bartles & James and some purple passion - smacks of underage consumption - but if they are over 21 and we are no where in sight there is nothing the store would even be able to do.

Just my $0.26. (I figure $0.26 for inflation - plus apparently I have a soapbox to pay for).

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answers from Houston on

In Texas, we can buy wine and beer in grocery and convenience stores, but hard liquor is only sold in private liquor stores. I'm not sure how I feel about hard liquor in a grocery store... not sure that I like it.

The provisions of your iniative seem odd to me - why go from one extreme to another? And why should the store have to be so big to sell it? There is a middle ground.

A liquor store in Texas has a lot more regulations imposed than a store that only sells beer and wine.

I don't know why in Momma L.'s area privatizing liquor also immediately came with tattoos, tabacco shops, and bums. In Texas it's illegal to consume alcohol on-premise of a place that sells it (other than bars and restuarants, obviously). Maybe that law would be good Richmond (VA?) to eliminate the loitering? Again, the automatic tagging along of tabacco and tattoo shops is strange to me...

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answers from Los Angeles on

Here in CA it's privatized and that is very convenient; especially since many grocery stores and convenience stores are open 24/7. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the state-fun liquor stores are closed on Sundays if I recall? And the bars on the windows and such kind of make you feel like a criminal when you go to purchase in WA, IMO. I can't comment on the loss of jobs, I'm really not sure about that one...

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answers from New York on

I've lived in three states, including WA. Washington was the only state that could sell beer & wine in grocery stores. In NJ, you either had a liquor license or you didn't. So you could sell EVERYTHING or NOTHING. I think you couldn't sell any liquor at all, including beer on Sunday when I was growing up, but I don't really remember. There was one grocery store that I knew about that had any alcohol. They also had sporting goods and firearms. It was a strange place. Liquor stores could also sell non-alcoholic items, such as mixers.

In NY, beer is sold in groceries & convenience stores, but anything harder is not (I think that recently changed, as I've seen some wine in the local CVS, unless it is non-alcoholic). Harder alcohol (including wine) is only available in liquor stores, which cannot sell non- or low-alcohol items. There are also "package" stores. I think that only "package" stores are allowed to sell beer in over a 12 pack quantity, but I'm not sure, since I rarely buy beer.

You know about Washington State, which regulates beer/wine in the same way, and differently than hard alcohol, which is only available in "state run" stores. However, based on the above, you can see that private does not necessariily mean in liquor stores.

EDIT: I realized I didn't answer your actual question! I find that private stores means I don't have to track down the one state store, and that there are more choices in the type of store I frequent. The state stores didn't have as much choice and were vaguely depresssing, although there was one high-end store in Seattle, if I remember correctly, and didn't Costco sell liquor?

When I lived in Washington I found the state run store concept silly and annoying compared to other places, although it was nice to buy wine at the same place I was buying the rest of dinner, rather than having to go to a separate spot. I would vote to privatize if I still lived there.

As to underage drinking - strict enforcement of laws at all spots. I would think that in Washington you'd just find teens buying beer rather than hard liquor. It's cheaper anyway.

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answers from Richmond on

I love my ABC store (our liquor store) and it's employees!... up north, they were 'package stores' and you could buy more than liquor... I like that too. I'd also love to be able to buy vodka, cranberry juice, diapers, and vegetables in the same place. I can see where this is an 'on the fence' issue.

Kids will find booze wherever; I don't think the absent or presence of liquor stores fact in... when I was a young, dumb kid, we used to pay the hobos to buy our booze (no shortness of hobos here!)... no saying that was smart, but any kid buying booze is dumb anyway. I can say that honestly, because I was that dumb kid ;)

Interested in seeing the responses.

Also, anywhere that sells liquor has to have an ABC license. I would assume that big stores (Food Lion, Kroger, etc) would have to do the same, run under the same regulations and rules, and really, it would be more of an added convenience thing than a 'I'm taking your job' thing. Yes, I'd buy booze from the grocery store if they sold it, rather than supporting my ABC store. But ABC would still have to supply their own stockers, checkers, not to mention transport, because carrying anything over $300 in liquor is against the law without a valid certificate here. Meh.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I think that if you want to own a liquor store you should be able to go buy the stuff and open one. Those state employees will get termination packages if they are laid off, some may be able to go to other departments too. I would say they will need to start thinking about future jobs/careers. I can't imagine having the state monitoring/controlling something like this.

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answers from Los Angeles on

It's privatized here in California. Every grocery store and liquor store sell alcohol. And we can buy alcohol any day of the week as long as it's not after 2 in the morning. Every grocery store has a special aisle for alcohol, so if you don't want your kids to see it, then you don't have to go down that aisle. The employees have to card you in order to buy the alcohol. I'm 32 and I still get carded every time I buy alcohol, so no, we don't have kids buying alcohol.

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answers from New York on

In CT we have liquor stores, that require special licensing and are strictly regulated. Also, the minimum prices are set by the state, so the small businesses can compete. The police occassionally set up sting operations and stores selling to underage people are strictly fined (both monetaryly and license suspension).

Here's my thoughts...
If privitized and liquor can be sold basically anywhere, it will be very difficult to regulate.
Most of those state employees will have a very difficult time finding suitable employment. When grocery stores add new products, they don't hire new employees.
Many consumers will loose. You can now walk into a store and ask for help in choosing a wine for a specific purpose in a specific price range. In a large store, the clerks will not have that knowledge.

And yes, if a teen is determined, regardless of what laws there are, they'll find a way.

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