WA State Voters To Decide If Teens Should Die From Alcohol

1183On November 8th in Washington State voters will weigh in on a very important ballot measure: Initiative-1183. Though Initiative 1183 will allow a variety of things, most importantly it would actually remove the state from the sale and distribution of spirits and allow retail outlets to purchase spirits directly from the spirit manufacturer as well as from private distributors.

How do I know Initiative 1183 is a good thing? Because the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America have contributed nearly every penny of the $12 Million that have been raised in opposition to the ballot measure.

That's a bit cheeky, isn't it?…determining if a ballot measure is good or bad based on whether or not wholesalers support it.

OK…How about this? I know the ballot measure is a good thing when the opposition begins to argue that its passage will lead to the deaths of our teen-aged children.

The key to understanding Washington's I-183 is that: 1) it gets the state out of the business of selling alcohol 2) In doing so it gives retailers and suppliers of alcohol the opportunity to do business directly with each other rather than having to go through a middleman wholesalers. 3) Costco is funding nearly the entire Pro I-1183 campaign. Beer and wine wholesalers primarily outside of Washington State are funding nearly all of the NO on I-1183 campaign.

Make no mistake: Wholesalers across the country HATE this ballot initiative because it represents not just an instance of the scales in one state being slightly tipped away from their favor. They HATE it because it represents reform to the idea of the state-mandated three tier system and it is that system that sustains the wholesalers and which is the bedrock of their success. The great fear is that this move to get the state out of the business of selling alcohol and to allow sales directly from supplier to retailer will spread across the country.

The latest poll shows that a majority of Washington State voters approve of Initiative 1183. What will be interesting to watch is the fall out of 1183 passing. Wholesalers will respond that Costco "BOUGHT" the initiative in Washington State through their nearly $20 million contribution to the the effort. Yet, surely there will be be someone (or many) around to point out that wholesalers have been buying legislation that favors them for many years, only they do it through campaign contributions to candidates.



9 Responses

  1. James McCann - October 31, 2011

    And hopefully PA follows shortly…

  2. Tom Wark - October 31, 2011

    James….I think it less likely to happen in PA. But who knows?

  3. James McCann - October 31, 2011

    Tom, I’m knee deep in the PA negotiations, and we’ve never had a better shot. Still probably only 50/50, but lots of momentum and political capital is now being spent.

  4. John - October 31, 2011

    Great post as usual, however the election here in Washington is November 8, not tomorrow.

  5. Tom Wark - October 31, 2011

    John: Woops…thanks…

  6. Marc Hinton - October 31, 2011

    Great post Tom and a timely message. Despite the fact that I live in Oregon the YES/NO 1183 ad’s have been running non-stop. The tone and look are so similar you have to pay close attention to figure out if it is a YES commercial or NO. The NO is easy to spot if you watch until the end (which I am surprised if anybody does)because those commercials always speak of how many teen age children will die. My favorite is where a woman speaks out about how a drunk driver got his last drink at a convenience store before he killed her son. Obviously he bought either wine or beer because Spirits are not yet available and how would a NO vote change anything? A desperate attempt at confusing the issue. Lets hope citizens of Washington state are smarter than the producers of those advertisements.YES on 1183

  7. Sant Roman - October 31, 2011

    To the people who are voting yes for this…you do realize that if it does pass it will pretty much wipe out all small wine shops right?! You’ll have Costco and any other store that is 10,000 sq ft able to buy wines at volume and get a discount yet people who own store like myself will not be able to do that. screw the ads running stating teens will die. That is stupid, you still need to car them. This was a bill written by costco for costco. This does nothing for small businesses and only helps corporations and large wineries. Why do you think all the small wineries in the state are against it? You people need to read the facts. I’m all for getting the state out of the biz, but at least make it fair to all that sell wine.

  8. Tom Wark - October 31, 2011

    Sant Roman:
    First, you are incorrect in saying that “all small wineries in the state are against it”. In fact, Family Wineries of Washington State (a group of small Washington wineries) have ENDORSED Initiative 1183.
    Second, Costco can already purchase wine at volume and does…directly from the the producer.
    Third, California allows retailers to buy spirits in bulk from suppliers and lo and behold, there remains 100s of small specialty wine shops in the state.

  9. Sant Roman - October 31, 2011

    Okay, sorry you are correct, there are some small wineries in our state that have endorsed I-1183 but from the small ones I buy from, have not and are afraid that if this does go through they will be pushed to sell their wine at prices that are below what they are already giving them to wholesalers.
    Costco can purchase wines at volume in CA but NOT in WA state, that is illegal and if done already then there should be a lawsuit against that and the state for allowing that. I would love to get a price break on buying cases of wine rather than paying the same price for 1 bottle or 10 cases of the same wine.
    In california ther are allowed to bring spirits into local wine shops, this does help sales for the store and you cannot deny that. If this thing goes through, only stores that are 10,000 sq ft will be able to purchase spirts…Mow many of the local wine shops do you go to that are 10,000 sq ft? No anyone in the area with a store that large? I would love to bring in a selection of single malts and whiskeys but then there is that sq ft part of the bill. Seems fair to me.

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