Can new liquor store chain drive down prices?


BELLEVUE, Washington - A new liquor store in Bellevue claims it has the lowest prices anywhere in the state, even considering all the new taxes that came from privatization.

When the state turned the liquor business over to private companies earlier this month, booze prices skyrocketed because stores were forced to charge customers additional fees and taxes.

Total Wine is promoting itself as the answer to those prices.

“With now over 80 stores, we’re going to be able to provide you that buying power and give customers the best price possible,” district manager Don Bergenty said.

KIRO 7’s Bob Robuck wanted to test that claim, so he grabbed a fifth of Smirnoff vodka – the store’s most popular vodka – and took it to the register. With all the new fees and taxes, the cost came to $13.66. That same brand and size at a Safeway down the street cost $6 more.

Robuck left a message with a Safeway representative about what it plans to do to compete. He hasn’t heard back yet.

Total Wine said it believes Safeway and other stores will have to lower prices because the liquor giant plans to blanket the state with more locations.

“Probably eight to 10 stores within the next year,” said Mark Powell, a retail store operations representative for the company.

KIRO 7 is waiting to hear back from several other stores that sell liquor to get their take on the added competition.