Washington’s liquor distributors, the target for criticism from the small retailers who bought Washington’s former state liquor stores, don’t deserve the negative assessment, a spokesman for the distributors said this week.
Aaron Toso said the liquor distributors are operating just as distributors do in other businesses.
The small retail liquor store owners singled out liquor distributors in a News Tribune story last Sunday as the source of some of their financial woes.
Those distributors, because of their exclusive distribution deals with dozens of distillers, have the ability to set prices at whatever the market will bear, they charged.
Toso said while there may not be competition on price of branded products, there is competition among brands of liquor. If one brand of bourbon, for instance, raises its price too high, consumers may switch to another brand that’s a better bargain.
That competitive landscape is the same as it is in less expensive products, said Toso. If a Coke distributor raises prices too high for its cola, then consumers may switch to Pepsi at a lower price.
Distributors, just like retailers, had a few short months to set up their operations before the June 1 privatization date, he said. That brought some initial teething problems.
Those issues, he said, now have largely been worked out.John Gillie: 253-597-8663 firstname.lastname@example.org