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NO on I-1183 campaign gets big boost from Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America

The effort to protect Washington State from Costco’s newest liquor privatization scheme (Initiative 1183, which will be in the November ballot) has just received a massive resource boost from a powerful national trade organization.

Last week, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America wrote Protect Our Communities (the campaign to defeat I-1183) a series of checks totaling $3.6 million. The contributions represent more than ninety-five percent of the total raised, with the remainder coming from organized labor and the Democratic Party.

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America say they oppose Costco’s Initiative 1183 because it “is designed to disable an effective regulatory structure that balances consumer demand with appropriate control over the distribution of alcohol and the licensed players in the Washington state market.”

The wholesalers’ statement also noted: “A similarly ill-considered deregulatory initiative backed by Costco was rejected just last year, but they have chosen to ignore the message delivered by the citizens of that state and their elected representatives who drafted legislation to allow for limited privatization while maintaining strong regulatory control.”

In 2010, Protect Our Communities successfully defeated two liquor privatization schemes with the help of the beer industry, which wrote multiple seven-figure checks to finance an extremely effective campaign that hit the airwaves early.

Costco and its alcohol profiteer allies can hardly complain about the contributions. After all, their initiative is no grassroots uprising; they bought the signatures they needed (either with outright cash or with in-kind labor) and they will doubtless put up more money to fund their own advertising campaign in the autumn.

NPI strongly opposes Initiative 1183 and urges supporters and readers to stop greed by voting NO on 1183 this October or November.


  1. harry fox
    Posted August 23rd, 2011 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

    Talk about greed;what about the Wine &Spirits Wholesalers of America fighting to protect their on turf? Whats wrong with Costco receiving profits from the sale of liquor as well as providing more convenience for the consumer. I thought we were a country of private enterprise. I support Initiative 1183.

  2. Andrew
    Posted August 23rd, 2011 at 4:59 PM | Permalink

    Costco already sells beer and wine in their stores, Harry, but they want to be able to profit from sales of hard liquor. I-1183 was specifically written to benefit big box stores like Costco – it is a naked regulatory power grab on their part. They’re basically trying to rewrite the rules that restrict liquor sales to protect public safety in their favor.

    If that’s not greed, I don’t know what is.

    The Washington Food Industry Association, which represents the state’s independent grocery stores, has come out against I-1183 for this reason.

    Finally, Harry, public safety is much, much, much more important than convenient access to liquor. That is why we have a strong, proven regulatory system. State liquor stores already provide the people of the state with access to hard spirits. Costco basically wants to cannibalize these stores’ business so it can pad its own profits.

    Voters said NO to Costco’s liquor privatization scheme last year but they didn’t listen. Whatever happened to respecting the will of the voters?

    Vote NO on 1183.

  3. harry fox
    Posted August 28th, 2011 at 5:29 PM | Permalink

    The public safety issue is B.S. I have been all over the world where most liquor is sold trough the private sector and have few problems. Many stores have special caps that alert the store if someone tries to sneek liquor out of the store. If the present system is so great why do people from the state of Washington buy their liquor in California
    and Nevada and bring back to this state.

  4. Darcy Eggeman
    Posted August 29th, 2011 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

    I was wondering if you had anyone who would be willing to speak for 5 minutes or so on the initiative 1183 at the Thurston County Women’s Republican Club meeting, September 13th at 1130? We meet at the Hawkes Prairie Inn in Lacey.

    Please let me know. Yes has been invited as well.

  5. James
    Posted September 8th, 2011 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

    This is absurd. All you are trying to do is continue to cost the taxpayers of Washington. By opening this business to companies like costco and others, the price of liquor will dramatically be reduced. Evidence – a bottle of 1792 whiskey in CA costs around 28 at BEVMO. Here is THIS GREAT (HORRIBLE) prohibition STATE – it is almost $50. How is this “fair”? It has nothing to do with children drinking. It is in fact a rouse to continue BIG GOVERNMENT practice in the state of Washington. I love the trend word spin used to incite people to fear this proposition. My advice – VOTE YES!

  6. Johnny
    Posted September 8th, 2011 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    Why does the government have to control this business? It should be regulated, sure–but left to the private industry.

  7. Andrew
    Posted September 9th, 2011 at 5:12 PM | Permalink

    Because there are public safety implications. Ask any fire chief or police chief.

    When people consume alcohol, they are consuming a depressant. A depressant is a substance that slows down the central nervous system. Obviously, when you slow down your nervous system, that has all kinds of consequences. A person who is intoxicated cannot safely operate a motor vehicle, a boat, or an aircraft, for example. We know this because we’ve done the research.

    This country tried banning alcohol decades ago, and Prohibition didn’t work. So instead of Prohibition, what we have now is a system where it is legal to consume alcoholic beverages, but their distribution and sale is restricted.

    Costco wants to get the state out of the way so it can fatten its profits. That’s a pretty poor reason to dismantle the current system that we have, which has served Washington well.

  8. Pat Beemer
    Posted September 10th, 2011 at 6:17 AM | Permalink

    I’m a progressive and I’m voting yes on 1183. Since when did ‘profit’ become such a nasty word? Don’t forget that we are a republic with capitalism at its core (and is our strength). Costco, by most accounts, is a model company. They pay a liveable wage to unskilled/underskilled workers and routinely thumb their nose at Wall Street for the better good of their company and their workers. All this chatter I see on the Internet about how evil Costco is is absurd. They are a business. Get over it.

    As a consumer I want more choices. Our current system has not served us well. It is expensive and stifles competition. But the real bottom line here is liquor is not a vital service and government really doesn’t belong in the business of selling booze.

  9. Steve
    Posted September 10th, 2011 at 6:03 PM | Permalink

    As an owner of a small restaurant I like the fact that we pay the same price for booze as the big boys down the street. I will never be able to compete with them on price if they are allowed to purchase in bulk.
    I like the fact that I only have one company to deal with to purchase my alcohol. I do not have the time to call Costco and Walmart to see who has the best deal this week on every item.
    If I purchase wine or beer at Costco now, they charge me sales tax even though it is for resale. There is no mention that this will not continue with alcohol.
    If this is such a great deal for us, why do they not tell us how much we are going to save on a bottle? I have never signed a contract without knowing what the price is going to be, and I will not now.
    Vote No!

  10. Chris C
    Posted September 11th, 2011 at 9:24 AM | Permalink

    One aspect that I have not seen mentioned in this argument is the elimination of decent jobs, with a livable wage and benefits. While Costco is a responsible employer, I do not see Walmart and many others who would benefit from passage of the bill to be such. I say keep the liquor stores open so that more employees and their families in this state don’t become new victims in the corporate battle to enlarge the underclass of workers.

  11. Bill
    Posted September 16th, 2011 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

    The average Joe, that doesn’t do his homework, would read this blog and assume this is all the information he needs. The only problem is, this has so many negative cliches (“Costco and its alcohol profiteer allies”), you can’t help but think that it’s the less educated people that do not favor this bill. Is this not how the Tea Party started? A rumor mill that churns out lies. Each person embellishing a bit more. Finally, the lie is believed by every ignorant person that does not choose to investigate whether the statement they heard was true or false.
    Please, Think for yourselves! Read the initiative yourself. Don’t listen to someone else paraphrase it. Do you need others to “dumb it down” for you? I think not!

  12. Eric
    Posted September 16th, 2011 at 9:17 PM | Permalink

    I think its one of the most destructive peoples’ (costco) initiatives I have ever seen. I have suffered great hardship because of drunk driving. I do not wish anyone else the same hardships that myself, my family, my friend and his family, and the young drunk driver and his family had to go through. That young drunk man had great ambition and education. Now he is a moth in the eaves society trying to get his rights back. Harry I have been all over too, I drank before the accident, but after you have been crippled and suffered from a blood disease from a poorly regulated body part from New Jersey being transplanted into you you stop drinking and you grow up. Grow the fuck up buddy buy your liquor before 9 or go to an indian reservation or bar. In fact see if you can wholesale a pallet of liquor into your asshole you selfish prick.

  13. Deanna Riley
    Posted September 17th, 2011 at 7:14 PM | Permalink

    Do we really want to put the money from the mark up in Costco or the other big box stores or the state. Our State is hurting right now it is not the right time. Besides the state and local communities losing out on money how about the over 1000 employed by the LCB how about all the building owners with leases or the 100’s of truck drivers or the small business like the contract store owners they will never be able to make it. VOTE NO on 1183

  14. GRGardner
    Posted September 18th, 2011 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

    How is this NOT a win-win for the state. You fail to address the fact that the state itself — badly hurting for money — makes MORE money under 1183 than now. Further most of that money is DEDICATED to local public safety. It DOUBLES the fines and penalties for selling to minors, and no decent business is going to risk a profit center for illegal activity. And it gives consumers greater choice and convenience, and gets the state out of a business it has no business being in. Should the state also be selling smokes? Cars? Drugs? things that can be “bad” for us. As to the jobs issue, liquor store workers are UFCW members, as are most of the unionized grocery store workers in this state — SAME UNION SAME LOCAL. I fully expect stores to have to staff up and those unionized stores will likely absorb the good unionized workers at state stores. Stop being a knee-jerk no-think liberal – read the damn initiative yourself, see the increased funding, see the increased penalties, and see the benefits.

  15. Will S
    Posted September 19th, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

    A slight majority of voters did vote to reject last years initiative to move the state out of the liquor business, but you have to keep in mind that when that happens it usually not the overall idea, but the details and it was the details that didn’t look good, so we voted it down and now a better solution has availed itself this year. Voting Yes On 1183.

    Similarly, voters voted against a waterfront tunnel to replace the viaduct in Seattle. You have to be careful of what you read into those votes. I voted against that because of the financing mechanism, not because it was a tunnel.

  16. Henry Mah
    Posted September 19th, 2011 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    The only reason why the wine and spirits wholesalers of America have donated 3.6 million dollars is so that they can use our states archaic system of monopolization to fill up their bank accounts. Do you really think that they are concerned about our communities? The answer is that they are doing exactly what Costco is doing. The difference is with their system, you have to pay more and have to drive all over the place to find a liquor store. Does that make any sense?

  17. Henry Mah
    Posted September 19th, 2011 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

    To all of the people that say that they don’t want to support this initiative because it will put more drunks on the street. I say your argument holds no water! People can already drink alcohol (beer and wine in stores, and spirits in bars) How will this make people drink more? People will drink, whether it is spirits or beer or wine. This will not increase the number of DUI or the amount of alcohol related injuries. Do you know why? Because alcohol is not illegal! That is why. Since it is not illegal, I don’t want to pay more for it, nor do I want to drive all over the city to find a liquor store. Let’s get real folks….YES on 1183!

  18. Keri
    Posted September 19th, 2011 at 11:52 PM | Permalink

    I voted No on both initiatives last year. This year I believe I am going to vote Yes. I did not like the idea of liquor being sold in convenience stores, etc. but as Henry Mah stated people are going to drink and drive no matter what. I don’t know why people keep bringing up Costco, that is not the only place they will be selling liquor!!! People will be able to have a choice and not have to go out of their way to drive across town to a liquor store and waste GAS (which is expensive itself).

  19. Dorado
    Posted September 20th, 2011 at 9:16 AM | Permalink

    NO ON 1183.

    For all those that say approve 1183:

    You say that this initiative is not about greed, but is about easy access. You also say that this initiative is not about Costco, but is about lower prices. And you also say that this initiative is not about safety, but about higher profits.

    Hmm…easy access, lower cost, higher profits…don’t we already have those things?

    Let’s address each point.

    Easy access – Why is this even an issue? You honestly can’t drive further for what you want, or is it that you don’t want to? If you live too far from alcohol, then stock up or move if its that important to you.

    Lower cost – Are you certain this initiative will lead to lower costs? And these lower costs are for whom? Consumers may end up paying less at the store, but our safety infrastructure will need more funding to curb illegal acts as a result of lower prices and easier access.

    Profits? – Who’s going to profit here other than business? Last I heard, the current system has funds flowing into law enforcement which help to keep our cities safe.

    Your response to all of this may be, “…but other areas are doing it”. Well, if other areas allow their children easier access to alcohol, then that’s their business. And if they profit from it too, well, then those parents don’t deserve to be parents.

    It’s easy enough to get alcohol with the current system, so it can’t be about freedom or liberty either, because yes, we have access, and yes, pricing is reasonable. If you want even easier access and even lower prices, then move to another state.

  20. Posted September 20th, 2011 at 4:17 PM | Permalink

    Why trade state (public money) monopoly for big business (private profits) monopoly when there is little advatage to the consumer?

    The state liquor stores have over 1,000 SKUs. Do supporters of I-1185 really think this extensive selection will continue when Costco, Safeway, Walmart and other big box retailers take over? Do you really want to wait for big box alcohol stores like BevMo to pop up in our state to get your selection?

    Sure, our liquor prices are high now, but at least the profits are helping the public (for the most part).

    Trading one monopoly for another doesn’t make sense.

    If you’re serious about getting the state out of the liquor business, why not vote this down and create an initiative that actually benefits the people?!

  21. Dennis
    Posted September 21st, 2011 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

    It is really ironic that many professionals coming out against 1183 are showing how ignorant they are. They talk about how 7-11 sells to 25% of minors. Maybe they sell to 25% of the adults under 21 that actually try to buy. And 95% of convenience stores are not big enough to qualify. They also talk about how dangerous alcohol is. Well than ban it, don’t just fight a change where it is sold.