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Think Out Loud

Buying Liquor In Washington

Pete Springer/OPB

It’s been just over a year since liquor sales in Washington became private. Before that, like Oregon, Washington sales of booze was strictly controlled by a state agency. One effect of the new law is that the number of available kinds of distilled spirits has increased. Edward Cooper with the chain Total Wine & More says Washingtonians went from having just over a thousand choices to more like six thousand. And he says that consumers are enjoying the convenience of buying at one of the more than 1500 retail outlets, compared with the 329 state run stores before privatization.

But Brian Smith with the Washington Liquor Control Board says there have been kinks to work out — like which state agency will collect fees on liquor and which will collect taxes. He says overall prices for consumers have risen about 11 percent. And Smith says some law enforcement officials have heard anecdotal reports of increased shoplifting of spirits.  

Do you buy spirits in Washington? What changes have you noticed? If you live in Oregon, do you cross state lines to buy alcohol?


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