In a new article in the Huffington Post, titled In Privatizing Liquor Operations, States Hope They Can Drink Down Deficits, New Deal co-owner Tom Burkleaux was interviewed by author Matt Sledge to get a local distiller’s persective on state liquor privatization.
Here’s the introduction to the piece for context:
Privatization, which would do away with post-Prohibition regulations on the sale of distilled spirits, could herald a new era of easy access to liquor and perhaps cheaper prices. The move is being aggressively supported in some states by big box retailers like Costco, which are hoping to get a cut of the liquor market. But opponents say the onetime cash infusion that would come from selling off liquor licenses would sacrifice the revenue generated by state monopolies on liquor sales or distribution.
Later in the article, the subject turns to the recent change in liquor laws in Washington:
To unravel what one expert described as a “patchwork quilt” of regulations across the states, Gilroy said, you have to go back in time. “When prohibition was repealed, states were in a position to decide, how are we going to do this going forward?” he said. Since then, he said, “the change is all in one direction” — states have only made their liquor laws more permissive.
But they have done so too slowly for big box chains like Costco, which led a $22.7 million push in 2011 to have voters approve an initiative in Washington state privatizing liquor retail sales — but, according to the initiative’s text, “only for premises comprising at least ten thousand square feet.” The referendum also let retailers buy directly from distilleries, skipping over the distributors who earn tidy profits acting as middlemen. It passed in November, and the state is now in the process of transitioning to private sales.
In nearby Oregon, Tom Burkleaux of the New Deal Distillery in Portland, which produces artisanal drinks like “Hot Monkey Vodka,” is worried that the “Walmartification” of the liquor business could spill over into his state. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which has a monopoly on spirit distribution in the state, makes a conscious effort to ship local products.
“It helps everybody that you have to compete on product value and price, versus whether you can pay off the store to carry you,” Burkleaux said.
You can read the complete, in-depth article at the Huffington Post