Residents have their say on liquor sales

Published on Wed, Oct 26, 2011
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Initiative 1183, set to appear on the November 8 ballot, would close state-run liquor stores and license private companies to sell and distribute hard liquor. Currently, the Washington State Liquor Control Board operates state liquor stores and sets prices, while private companies can only sell and distribute wine and beer.

Proponents of I-1183 say the initiative will add much-needed revenue to the state’s coffers and lead to more competitive liquor prices. Opponents counter that the initiative will add thousands of new liquor stores to Washington’s communities and harm public safety.

Issaquah-based Costco Corp. has invested about $20.9 million, as of October 25, into the Yes on I-1183 Coalition while Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, Inc., has poured about $9.2 million into Protect our Communities, the anti-liquor-privatization group.

"As a general rule, I prefer modest regulation. I also don’t think the people regulating it should be profiting from it.”
– Keith Bowen, owner, Birch Bay Farmers Market

“I’m definitely all for it. It would probably impact our business, but people also come to a bar for the atmosphere. I know it’s a pain in the butt to always have to go to a state liquor store.”
– Stephanie Vinson,  bartender at Wheelhouse Bar and Grill

“I’m a bit biased because I could lose my job if [I-1183 passes]. I have a hard time believing that Costco and Walmart are these magnanimous corporations that have [the public’s] best interests in mind. It doesn’t make sense to give away the profits to anyone else.”
– John Zuidmeer, owner, Birch Bay Liquor Store

“I’ve been for the initiative for 40-some years. They already sell liquor everywhere. It would mean more money for the services we need. I believe it will be a boon for the state of Washington. [The current law] is archaic. It’s way too old.”
– Sandy Bonnickson, Birch Bay resident

“For the restaurants really struggling in Whatcom County, it would be a benefit. But [the price drop for consumers] isn’t enough of a benefit to balance the job loss. [And] I know that the concern on the grocery store level is that we could be like California and lose variety and lose some of the local wines. What’s that going to do to the little local wineries?”
– Marie Kimball, wine steward for The Market at Birch Bay and the Blaine Cost Cutter


“I think the liquor stores are fine the way they are. There are enough places for kids to get liquor; it doesn’t need to be in convenience stores. You can get beer at the store at 2 a.m. anyway. I think kids and alcohol is a scary combination.”
– Kellee Harbst, Blaine resident

“I’m for the initiative because Costco is supporting it. What Costco is for, I’m for, because I’m a Costco member. The claim that every drug store will be selling liquor seems to be a stretch.”
– Al Krause, Birch Bay resident

“I don’t see why the state should be in a private business. I think it’s interesting that the people raising the moral concerns are also the people who want less government in people’s lives. However it works out, people will still make their own decisions on where they’ll go. I just think it makes infinite sense to put the state’s resources elsewhere.”
– Lois Franco, Blaine resident (not pictured)