OLCC hands lawmakers draft bill to allow grocers to sell liquor

OLCC hands lawmakers draft bill to allow grocers to sell liquor
KATU photo.

SALEM, Ore.—The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has handed lawmakers a draft bill that will allow grocery stores in the state to sell distilled spirits starting in March 2015.

The proposal will keep ownership of all hard liquor in Oregon with the OLCC, but could more than triple the locations where the spirits can be sold. Any grocery story larger than 10,000 square feet would qualify to buy from the OLCC and sell to customers.

The agency hopes to head off a push by private grocers to make a move similar to Washington and take liquor sales away from the state.

Its bill aims to satisfy customers by providing more convenience but also keep a major source of revenue for the state.

Under the proposed legislation, retailers would not be allowed to mark liquor to a lower price than the state minimum.  Retailers would make their profits by adding on to that minimum price, thereby protecting the state’s cash flow from the booze business.

Grocers who are interested will have to apply for an endorsement starting Jan. 1, 2015 and pay the state a wholesale price for the distilled spirits.

Two hundred forty-eight current state liquor stores would remain open if the bill passes.

Gross sales of distilled spirits are projected to top $1 billion by 2015.