In preparation for the new year the Association’s Board of Directors has decided to seek to address liquor pricing as its top legislative priority for 2017. This is the single biggest issue we hear about from you, and as difficult a fight as it may be, the Board decided to make it the Association’s priority in the year ahead. The complaints we receive are mostly about quantity discounting making liquor purchases substantially more expensive for smaller operators. It’s often less expensive to buy liquor at retail in a liquor store than the wholesale prices small operators are charged. Other frequent complaints include delivery charges or gas surcharges, imposed when motor fuel costs spiked a few years ago but haven’t gone down as the price of gasoline has declined, split case or bottle charges, and infrequent deliveries. We raised these issues and our proposed solutions – allowing you to purchase from liquor stores and group buying – during last year’s ABC Working Group to propose reforms to the alcohol beverage laws – but the wholesalers not surprisingly shot them down so now we’re taking the fight to the Legislature.
A number of legislators understand this issue and have proposed legislation to allow for purchases from liquor stores and group buying. While these bills didn’t made any progress in the past we plan a more aggressive approach in 2017. Your direct involvement will be a key element of our strategy. No one understands this issue or can explain it better to legislators or their staffs than those of you subject to the liquor wholesalers’ monopoly. We’ll have more details and specific requests for your engagement in this effort next month.