Holiday spirits are high at local liquor stores, but so are the prices. The cost of customer Mark Lightner's pint of whiskey has almost doubled from $5.95 to $9.05.
“What do you do?” he said. “You can't do anything about it.”
That’s painfully true for drinkers, especially when so many of them voted to approve I-1183, which took effect in June. Supporters of the Costco sponsored initiative argued taking the state out of the booze business and opening up liquor sales to private stores would increase competition and lower prices.
“I don’t know how you would expect prices to go down when you’re adding this new middle man,” said Leonard Daniel, owner of Mountlake Terrace Liquor and Wine.
He says a new 20% mark up by liquor distributors, who were nonexistent in Washington before, means prices had nowhere to go but up.
“Before, we were buying directly from the state. Now, we have to go through three or four different distributors to get all the alcohol.”
The price of a liter of liquor today is up about $2.50 since before 1183 took effect in June, and that isn't expected to change any time soon. The earliest a price break could come is in 2014 when a 10% distributor fee is cut in half.
Despite the high prices, though, state statistics show people are actually drinking more. The Department of Revenue states liquor purchases are up 3.1% since June. Apparently, though, people aren’t drinking more at the corner pub.
Kenmore’s MVPub has had to raise prices twice in the 6 months since 1183 took effect, bringing down business. The liquory logic being that while buying a bottle at the liquor store is more expensive, it's still cheaper than buying booze at the bar.
MVPub’s Michael Stephens had hoped cheaper booze across the board would allow him to lower prices and bring in more business, but that never materialized.
“I do believe people were sold on something that hasn't really happened.”