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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
Costco Fights Washington Liquor Laws
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)

(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.

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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.” (Read more Costco stories.)

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