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Liquor sales, liquor profits

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Privatization proposals raise questions

After voters in Washington state approved an initiative privatizing distilled liquor sales two years ago, it seemed inevitable that Oregonians would soon be presented with a similar proposal. Sure enough, this week the Oregon Grocery Association filed five liquor privatization initiatives, one of which is likely to appear on the ballot next year…

The grocery association’s interest is obvious: It wants a piece of the action. Currently, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission purchases and warehouses virtually all liquor sold in the state, which is then sold through state-chartered liquor stores. The initiatives filed this week would allow stores with more than 10,000 square feet of retail space to sell spirits…

State-chartered liquor stores tend to be small, independently owned businesses. The proposed initiatives would open the liquor market to such giants as Fred Meyer and Safeway, which are backing the proposals…

For consumers, privatization offers the potential advantage of lower prices…

Oregon’s current system has promoted the emergence of a low-volume craft distillery industry, which after privatization would depend on specialty retailers. Privatization would make it more convenient to buy a bottle of Jack Daniels bourbon, but finding a Rogue Valley pear liqueur might be a different story…

The Oregonian, December 18, 2013

Our Response & Your Comments

Lane Solutions neither supports nor opposes this potential ballot measure. But we do have questions which we we’re considering and suggest that you do as well.

  1. Should Oregon, or any state, be in the liquor business?
  2. Does Oregon, with its high liquor prices, have fewer problem drinkers than states which have lower liquor prices (e.g. California)?
  3. Is it the business of government to “protect(ing) small businesses at the expense of big ones?”
  4. Is it the business of government to protect boutique distillers such as Rogue Valley or should the market decide who survives and who doesn’t?
  5. How good is government at picking winners and losers?

We welcome your comments on this issue.