Costco Revamps Liquor-Sales Initiative
SEATTLETIMES.COM - Costco Wholesale has not given up on the idea of selling liquor in Washington.
Having lost last year at the polls, the country's third-largest retailer is back with another initiative for voters to consider.
Initiative 1183, which is likely to be on the ballot this fall, resembles last year's effort in that it would push the state out of the liquor business, forcing it to auction off its stores and distribution center. Retail stores — including Costco — would sell spirits instead.
But there are big differences between last year's initiative and this year's effort. Costco seems to have weeded out many parts that opponents found objectionable last time around.
Based on the company's projections, I-1183 would not reduce government liquor revenues like last year's measure.
The new initiative calls for a 17 percent fee from retailers on all liquor sales, and other fees from distributors, which Costco says would provide state and local governments tens of millions of dollars a year more than the current system.
It also limits the number of stores that would sell liquor and leaves in place key rules governing alcohol sales in Washington.
Perhaps most important from a political perspective, it makes no changes in the way beer is distributed and sold.
Last year, beer makers and distributors contributed more than half of the $9.2 million that helped defeat Costco's initiative.
"We were outgunned and lost," said Joel Benoliel, chief legal officer at Costco, which threw $4.8 million behind the measure. The retailer has contributed $1.8 million so far to I-1183. >>>CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
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