Washingtonians flocking to Idaho for cheaper alcohol
Just hundreds of yards from Washington, and barely into Idaho, the shelves of the State Line Liquor Store are stocked, but sticker shock proves they won’t be for long.
The store opened months after Washington voters passed I-1183. When privatized liquor started almost two years ago in Washington, Kootenai County saw an increase of $7 million in liquor sales each year. So many people are crossing the border to buy booze. Those purchases from Washingtonians left nearly $420,000 in sales tax for Kootenai County last year.
If you put the average price for a bottle of liquor at about $20, that means 350,000 bottles would leave the county each year. The sales tax would stay.
The Idaho State Liquor Division says Kootenai County had the highest growth in the state.
“It’s not a regular thing but when I’m over here, pop in, just do it,” said Eric Carlson of Spokane Valley.
Almost every license plate KXLY saw at the liquor store this afternoon was from Washington, including Eric Carlson’s.
“How come they can do it cheaper here, not there. It’s not like we’re crossing oceans?” Carlson said.
The prices keep customers coming back. A quick price check for a fifth of Black Velvet on either side of the border, showed it costs $10 in Idaho and $16 in Washington.
“Maybe Washington could be more competitive on their prices,” customer John Crofoot suggested.
So what would it take to keep that money in their hometown?
“I suppose if I thought it was being spent better, maybe I would,” Carlson said.
While some wanted to pass I-1183 for convenience, many people are going out of their way and out of their state to buy cheaper alcohol.