Election 2010: Initiative 1100 ‘common sense reform’ for liquor industry

By Steve Price,
Arnie’s Restaurants

Of all the choices on the ballot this November, the one that I believe impacts our industry the most is Initiative 1100. I-1100 repeals the state monopoly on the marketing and selling of spirits, and breaks down the more than 80-year-old laws governing liquor, beer and wine in Washington state.

Today, Washington state is one of just 18 states that continue to regulate, distribute and sell liquor. As a liquor licensee in this state, I have no choice but to purchase liquor from state owned and controlled stores. I am further limited in their delivery options, payment terms, inventorying supply and, obviously, negotiating prices. Well-meaning legislators in Olympia have attempted to make changes during the past several years to modernize this system and remove prohibition-era barriers that no longer make sense in today’s society. It’s been slow-going and — although helpful — these changes are akin to slowly removing a few bricks from a massive wall that needs be torn down completely.

Creating a profitable business in the restaurant sector these past few years has been increasingly difficult. From increased food costs, to payroll taxes going up every year and other rising expenses, there seems to be no end in sight. I have turned to every source and asked, “How can I bring down the cost and be profitable again?”

I support I-1100 because the common sense reforms in this initiative finally will allow me to find the best price for spirits, beer and wine with the convenience and reliability every licensee has at some point wished existed. I-1100 will be a significant benefit to my business by:

  • Allowing restaurants to choose their suppliers. I-1100 eliminates the state’s monopoly over the sale and distribution of alcohol in Washington state and allows for strictly regulated private retailers and distributors to compete for business with all consumers, including restaurants.
  • Allowing distributors more options to purchase directly from manufacturers.
  • Allowing retailers and distributors to offer delivery and payment terms. Today, restaurants do not have any delivery options for spirits and must abide by state-sanctioned payment terms for spirits, beer and wine.
  • Allowing restaurants to maintain an inventory for use in their businesses. Remarkably, under current law a restaurant business with multiple locations is not permitted to store spirits, beer or wine at an off-site location to supply their different location.
  • Allowing retailers and distributors to negotiate volume discounts with their customers. Although the state allows for discount pricing to liquor licensees, that option does not extend to beer or wine. Additionally, much of the pricing for liquor, beer and wine is an outcome of the political process, not the marketplace

Thank you for allowing me to present my position on I-1100 and explain why the initiative is so important to my business and thousands of my fellow owners and operators struggling right now to stay in business.

More info: https://www.yesto1100.com

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