Local stores jump into mix as liquor sales go private

Hard liquor is moving on to store shelves on the first day of privatized sales.

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WALLA WALLA -- Local retailers were losing no time today to join the statewide jump into private liquor sales.

At Super 1 Foods workers were stocking shelves this morning in the store's newly opened liquor section, while other shops had their spirits sections up and running.

Many stores have been preparing sections of their buildings in anticipation of today, when Initiative 1183 went into effect ending the state-run monopoly on liquor sales.

At the Bi-Mart department store on Plaza Way, Assistant Manager Misty Morrisette said, "We just moved some things around" to make room for spirits, which the store will be offering along with the wine and beer already in stock.

As a sign in Super 1 showed, retailers are also taking pains to warn shoppers about the "liquor sticker shock" in reference to the additional fees and taxes added on to the retail price of each bottle sold.

Under the old system, the shelf price in the state-run liquor stores was what a shopper paid at the cash register. But as of today, shoppers can expect to pay a $3.77 liter tax ($2.83 for a 750-milliliter bottle or $6.60 for 1.75 liters), plus a 20.5 percent spirits tax. Retailers also have to pay a 10 percent distributor fee and a 17 percent retail tax to reimburse the state for money lost from the state-run sales.

Information from the Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer was included in this report. Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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