Barbara Crider was kind enough to share a letter that she sent to Bob Hasegawa about SB 5731. The purpose of this bill is “Allowing beer and/or wine specialty shop licensees to sell craft distillery products.” The text of the bill can be found here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2013-14/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5731.pdf
If you have an opinion on this issue, contact our legislators and share it with them.
Barbara’s letter is below:
thank you for hearing SB5731. I strongly support this bill, and would appreciate it if you would vote in favor.
– Staying in business. Business for specialty shops has been declining since I-1183 (privatization initiative) went into effect, as customers switch to 1-stop shopping. To retain their customers, specialty stores must be able to sell spirits, such as high-end brandy and dessert wines.
Selection. Specialty shops sell products that other stores don’t. Restaurants also rely on specialty shops.
– Different markets. Former state stores mostly focus on the top 50-60 selling brands, which are produced by large, international corporations like Diageo. This leaves little–if any–shelf space for small, Washington distillers. SB 5731 provides a marketplace that is just for those small, Washington distillers.
– State revenue. Specialty shops will sell higher-priced spirits in keeping with their customer base. These more expensive products will bring in additional revenue for the state (through the 17% spirits sales tax).
– Customer service. Specialty shops provide excellent customer service, and are able to explain the products in depth and give recommendations. This is not something you get at Safeway, Costco or the former state liquor stores.
– Community. Specialty shops hold weekly tasting events. People learn about the products, but more than that, the events provide a sense of community as many people regularly attend the tastings.
– Promote Washington products. Specialty shops hold beer/wine classes where Washington products are promoted. SB 5731 opens that same opportunity for small, Washington distillers.
– Fairness. Many sectors within the liquor industry are in jeopardy following I-1183 (liquor privatization initiative): specialty shops, small distillers, craft distillers, small family wineries, importers, etc. Each one of these sectors has just as much right to stay in business as former state liquor stores do.
Public safety. SB 5731 allows only true specialty shops to sell spirits. If you’re under 21 years old, you have no business going into these specialty shops. Unlike large stores, these specialty shops do not have self-checkout lines (which are unsafe), they do not have shoplifting problems, and they do not sell products favored by chronic public inebriates.
– Support small distillers. Small distillers are being pushed out of the market due to lack of shelf space. Under 5731, if a specialty shop wants to sell spirits, the spirits must be produced by small distillers. Washington is noted for its beer and wine industries. If our distillers show even half of the imagination and innovation as our brewers and vintners have, the Washington distillery industry will be very successful, too. The talent is here; we just have to nurture it.
– Support small family wineries. Similar to small distillers. If specialty shops close, they will lose shelf space.
– Tourism. People do not come to Washington to visit former state liquor stores. They come to Washington to visit our wineries, breweries, distilleries, and the specialty shops that carry Washington products.
Thank you for your support of this bill.
Barbara R Crider