Herald: 2012 Liquor Sale Changes in Washington Crippled Small Retailers

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2012 can't end soon enough for independent liquor stores in Washington state, hoping that their state's legislators can come to their rescue in 2013.

After watching their state hand the reins of liquor sales over to private companies seven months ago, independent retailers say state fees have eroded their profit margins and ultimately increased the price of booze.

This morning's Tri-City Herald reports that regional storeowners are considering closing their doors if changes aren't made soon.

Additionally, mom and pop liquor retailers say big box stores—such as Costco—are eligible "for quanitity discounts under Initiative 1183 that smaller stores don't qualify for, making it harder to compete with chain grocery stores and pharmacies."

Initiative 1183, approved by Washington voters in 2011 and effective in June of this year, added a 10 percent fee on distributors and a 17 percent fee on retailers in the place of a state markup that Washington used to slap on liquor sales. But the new fees are in addition to the already existing 20.6 percent Washington sales tax and liter tax.

The Herald reports that about 60 small Washington stores have already shut down or never reopened because of the change. Another 20-30 small stores might close in the coming months, according to one retailer.

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