VANCOUVER, Wash. - Washington voters turned liquor sales over to private businesses last year, allowing the sale of booze in grocery stores and other outlets that were previously off-limits for hard alcohol sales.
That vote has also paved the way for Vancouver’s first liquor "superstore," which is set to open soon.
BevMo! is a California chain with more than 150 stores locations, mostly in California, and they plan to open an 11,000 square foot store in Vancouver in early April of this year.
That’s about the time a former state run liquor store down the street will be closing.
But some people are concerned about the impact on local businesses and about where the BevMo! store will be located.
Anson Bolinger, the manager of the former state-run store, says added taxes, competition from Oregon and more competition from BevMo! will make it impossible for his small operation to turn a profit.
He said they plan on staying open for a "just a couple of months."
“Our goal going into this was to have a much wider variety than people could find in the grocery stores,” Bolinger said. “And we thought that would be where we would make a profit was by doing that.”
But Bolinger says his store just can't compete with the buying power of BevMo!, which will be able to sell products at a lower price. The BevMo! store will be int he same shopping complex as a Target store, which now also sells liquor.
He said the former state-run store is only doing 10 to 15 percent of the business it used to now that liquor can be purchased in grocery stores and other places.
Mike Souder, who lives nearby said he isn't looking forward to kids walking to or from school being exposed to the prominence of BevMo! products.
The BevMo! location will be just about a block away from Mill Plain Elementary School.
"You don't know if there's going to be more panhandlers attempting to get the product around here or whatnot," Souder's wife Catherine said. "You don't know if people are intoxicated when they're driving through this parking lot, so that's a little worrisome."
BevMo! has followed all the rules and laws required to open their store in Vancouver and said they are interested in investing more in Washington.
They are currently hiring and say that right now, the company doesn't have plans to open another outlet in Clark County. Construction of the current store is nearly complete.