Increase in Washington liquor prices affects local restaurants

CLARKSTON, WA - An increase in alcohol prices in Washington State has more far reaching effects than just having the ability to buy booze at the grocery store.

Stocking up like a harsh winter is on it's way is what Tomato Brothers Bar Manager Sara Dufour had to do, to make sure costs for her liquor drinks didn't skyrocket. But what happens when her back-stock runs out?

"We just raised them at the first of the year, and hopefully it'll be a couple months before we have to raise them again but we definitely will have to raise them," said Dufour.

It's a harsh reality Washington businesses face after the passage of Initiative 1183. Now that Washington State is no longer regulating alcohol prices Dufour said private distributors are taking advantage of the power.

"Total percentage is going to be about 18% to 36% increase," said Dufour.

Owner of Roosters Waterfront Restaurant Sam Worrell said there are a handful distributors he can buy from but two major companies run the show.

"One of them is like 60% of the market and the other is 30 or something like that so two of them have a large share of the pie," said Worrell. "Basically we gave the monopoly over to a private business."

Worrell said The State of Washington isn't hurting from the change either.

"Washington has the highest liquor taxes in the nation so basically when we took the State out of the market, they kind of got guaranteed the same profitability that they were making before," said Worrell.

"It's super disappointing considering that I can go a quarter-mile to Idaho and get something six-dollars cheaper per bottle," said Dufour.

Disappointing not only to Dufour but for local consumers who will have to deal with the increase in prices at their favorite bars. Both Dufour and Worrell said they believe beer and wine sales for their restaurants will counter-balance the decrease in liquor based drinks.