SunBreak | Tracking prices in liquor stores large and small

Since the beginning of privatized liquor sales in Washington last June—for the first time since Prohibition—the question on everyone’s lips has been: Where are the cheaper prices we were promised?

Remember stories like this? “The owners of Shanahan’s Pub in Vancouver say they fully support 1183, because it will mean they can buy liquor at cheaper prices, and pass those savings on to their customers,” reported KOIN TV in 2011.

Despite public approval for Initiative 1183 in the early days, there were those who disliked it from the beginning. “Like a lot of craft distillers, Kent Fleischmann, co-owner of Dry Fly Distilling in Spokane, will vote against I-1183. He worries that prices for Dry Fly’s vodka and gin could be driven much higher by retailer and distributor markups, plus new fees imposed by the initiative. He figures a 750-milliliter bottle of gin and vodka could rise from $29.95 to $40, a daunting prospect,” reported the Seattle Times.

Unfortunately for Fleischmann (and the liquor buyers of Washington) his prediction turned out to be correct. A 750-milliliter bottle of Dry Fly gin is now regularly priced $34.99 at one upper-scale Seattle grocery store, or $44.99 with tax.

Still, another question remains: Do certain stores, large or small, chain or independent, sell liquor at better prices than others? Continue reading