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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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21 replies on “NO on I‑1183 campaign gets big boost from Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America”

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

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

    1. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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? 

  15. 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!

  16. 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).

  17. 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.

  18. 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?!

  19. 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.

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