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June 3, 2010 at 4:08 PM

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Costco donates $350,000 to liquor initiative

Posted by Melissa Allison

Costco Wholesale contributed $350,000 last week to Modernize Washington, the group trying to put an initiative on the November ballot that would take the state out of the liquor business.

The Issaquah-based chain also set up tables in its warehouses to collect signatures for Initiative 1100, which would allow businesses that currently sell beer and wine to also sell liquor and would eliminate price controls and allow volume discounts.

The move comes after Costco lost most aspects of a years-long court battle to change Washington beer and wine distribution.

It says the initiative would improve prices for consumers and eliminate inefficiencies in the distribution system. Indeed, more than 930 of the Liquor Control Board’s 1,200 employees would lose their jobs if liquor distribution and sales were privatized, according to a state auditor’s report.

The Washington Food Industry Association opposes the initiative, saying it would put small grocery stores at a competitive disadvantage. Right now, everyone pays the same wholesale price for beer and wine.

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