Big booze store moves into Vancouver; will small stores dry up?

Big booze store moves into Vancouver; will small stores dry up? »Play Video
Customers shop at the newly opened BevMo! Friday, a big box liquor store, in Vancouver, Wash.

VANCOUVER, Wash. – A California company is bringing some new competition to Washington's liquor sales.

BevMo! just opened its first store in southwest Washington Friday.

Washington voters ended state-controlled liquor last year. That opened the door for big box stores like Bev Mo! Many former state stores that are now independently owned are being left behind by their former customers.

BevMo! was busy on its opening day with customers asking questions, making purchases and even tasting things.

But is a bottle of your favorite liquor at a box store cheaper than from the smaller store down the street? Answer: Not really. The discounts at BevMo! are good on some items but not all of them.

The signup table for the store's club card was busy, which is the only way to get the discounts offered.

The company does market research to keep prices competitive but says volume helps it keep the numbers down, too.

"We have 132 stores in the West Coast," said Mike Muncal, a representative of BevMo! "We definitely have great buying power and that gives us the opportunity to pass those savings on to the consumer."

That selection is bringing in the customers but is driving them away from the independent stores like the one down the street.

The building is for lease. The family that owns the store is shutting down at the end of the month thanks to the new competition.

Anson Bolinger has worked there under the state and now private system and has seen dramatic changes in business.

"We thought it was going to be maybe 50 percent, but it's a whole lot less than that," he said. "And it's just not enough sales to pay the bills."

The prices are lower than the big box store but the customers are gone.

Bolinger said that the family that owns the store used to have five. The final one is now closing.