Costco Fights Washington Liquor Laws

Big-box retailer seeks to cut middleman, boost profits
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Suggested by LazyPaperboy
Posted Jun 18, 2010 5:05 PM CDT
Charles Ulufale moves a pallet of wine through the Costco Wholesale Corporation store in Tacoma, Wash. Wednesday, May 30, 2007.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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(Newser) – Costco is out to change the face of alcohol distribution—and, not coincidentally, sell booze at the same steep discount it applies to everything else. It’s starting with a push in its home state of Washington, where the retain giant has pumped $500,000 into a campaign to change the law, the Wall Street Journal reports. Cashiers have even been asked to solicit signatures from customers for a ballot initiative. If it works, expect similar efforts all over the country.

After Prohibition, most states set up rigid rules separating distributors from manufacturers from retailers, so Costco has to buy its booze on a store-by-store basis, paying the same price as a mom-and-pop liquor store. It wants to be able to buy in bulk, straight from the manufacturer, and sell at a big discount. Distributors, who would be cut out of that equation, are fighting back, saying the changes “would basically deregulate the industry.”

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