After Washington State Supreme court narrowly upheld an initiative to convert the state's liquor sales to private industry, Washington residents are feeling a bit of sticker shock. Gone are the prices held artificially low by nearly 80 years of state control, and in its place is the harsh reality of some of the highest alcohol excise taxes in the country.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that many Washington residents are crossing the border into Oregon for their booze. Oregon still maintains state control of its liquor sales, and thus all Oregon liquor stores sell alcohol at the same prices.
Washington is the 33rd state to fully privatize liquor sales, but it is believed to be the first to do so since immediately after the end of Prohibition. That is turning the state into a rare study of how—or how not—to manage such a transition at a time when several other states are weighing exiting the liquor business.
There is some hope that big box retailers such as Costco can use their distribution prowess to offset some of the costs for consumers.
[Continue reading at: Wall Street Journal]