It was 'Liquor Liberation Day' in Washington

It was 'Liquor Liberation Day' in Washington

VANCOUVER, Wash. - State liquor stores were closed under Initiative 1183, approved by voters last fall to dismantle Washington's state-run liquor system.

The initiative allows stores larger than 10,000 square feet and some smaller stores to sell hard alcohol.

Friday was the first day people could not only get hard alcohol at some of the small liquor stores, which are now privately owned, they could also pick it up with all the other things on their grocery list.

Many people were calling it "Liquor Liberation Day." More than 1,000 stores across the state now sell all sorts of spirits.

A Seattle grocery store held a midnight party and dozens of people showed up early Friday to be the first to buy liquor from a private retailer.

Shoppers seemed to be in high spirits at the Metropolitan Market in the Queen Anne neighborhood as TV cameras recorded them checking inventory and prices and taking their bottles to the check-out stand.

FX McRory's in Seattle, which has the biggest selection of bourbon in the world, says prices could rise there and at other bars because a 15.4 percent discount for bars disappeared June 1, as the new initiative took effect.

At a Costco and Fred Meyer in Vancouver, the new liquor aisles were packed with people checking prices. The question on everyone's mind was whether they will pay more or less for their favorite bottle.

Stores are already marketing their prices on liquor. Friday’s edition of The Columbian newspaper was wrapped in liquor ads.

All stores in Washington agreed to list the sticker price, which does not include all the taxes. So unlike before, the price you see is not the price you will pay.

Stores also have to pay distributor fees and retail fees to the state, and state analysts predict prices will eventually go up about 20 percent when all the initial discounts and sales go away.

Oregonians aren't exempt from the taxes.

So far customers seemed pretty pleased with the changes.

"This is cool. I'm stoked to get a good price," said Michael Phelan. "I didn't realize the tax increase, but it's almost the same as Oregon."

James Padilla, a salesman with Bend Distillery said, "It's a historic day in Washington. In fact, in the United States, Washington is the first state that has changed from a closed state to an open state. So the whole country is watching us today to see how it goes."