OLYMPIA, Wash. – Statewide liquor sales in Washington are up since privatization took effect in June. But business is down dramatically at some former state-owned liquor stores.
At Rainier Park Liquor, it used to take two clerks during the day. Three at peak times. Now manager Kevin Dziedzic says one person can mind the store most of the time. Business is so slow he even had to lay-off the owner’s brother.
“Definitely just have to be wiser with the money we spend,” Dziedzic says.
Dziedzic says business is off 40 to 45 percent since the nearby Safeway and QFC started selling hard liquor. The State Liquor Control Board says it’s hearing some former state and contract stores have seen a 50 percent decline in business.
Dziedzic though chooses to remain optimistic.
“We think we’re going to make it. But I think the number one thing that’s hurting us is the 17-percent fee that the Liquor Control Board collects.”
That fee was built into the Costco-backed initiative that ended the state’s nearly 80-year monopoly over liquor sales. The smaller retailers had hoped they would be exempt from paying it.
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