Prepare for sticker shock with liquor sales going private

SPOKANE, Wash. - Starting June 1, you can buy alcohol in places other than state-run liquor stores, but will customers be able to swallow the new prices?

For the next two weeks liquor will only be sold in state-run stores but that changes June 1 when sales go private. In anticipation, Super One Foods on the South Hill put up liquor prices on empty shelves.

Those prices were $9 to $10 per bottle above average prices found in state-run liquor stores.

Washington liquor prices rising video

"That would not be good; I wouldn't like that. But I don't drink that much so it wouldn't affect me too much but still I'd like to save a much as I can," Shayne McCarthy said.

Super One Foods says those prices are in no way accurate and that distributors haven't set prices yet. However the Washington State Liquor Control Board is speculating that prices will go up.

Right now state run stores mark up liquor about 52-percent. When Initiative 1183 takes effect, that percentage will be replaced by a standard 10-percent fee at distribution and two fees at the retail level, totaling 37-percent.

But to make any profit retailers and distributors will have to add their own markup. The state estimates the final markup could be between 52 and 72 percent, something that could cause buyers to stop reaching for the top shelf.

"Probably buy less nice stuff," Emily Burnett said while shopping in the Mission Avenue shopping center Monday afternoon.

"Well, I'd probably buy less of it. Make it last longer. Stick to beer," she added.

Next year the 10-percent fee on distribution will drop to five percent but it could be just a matter of consumers paying for convenience.