Agreement will keep liquor stores stocked until transition to private sales

99 percent of listed spirits to stay on shelves through May 31, 2012

January 13, 2012

OLYMPIA - A major milestone was reached recently when suppliers representing 99 percent of all listed spirits products signed an agreement with the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB). The Supplier Buy-back Agreement allows their products to remain available to customers until the transition to private sales on June 1, 2012.

“Our employees hit the ground running November 9,” said WSLCB Chair Sharon Foster. “I want to thank them for their steady leadership and dedication on behalf of our customers.”

The WSLCB reached out to suppliers soon after the election, seeking their input and support on a buy-back agreement. Initiative 1183 directs the Board to deplete all inventory before June 1, 2012. To reduce risk of leftover product and to ensure that customers had access to liquor until the transition date, the WSLCB needed a commitment from suppliers to re-purchase their products.

“We knew that it would take a partnership with our suppliers to ensure an orderly transition to private liquor sales on June 1, 2012,” said Debi Besser, Director of Purchasing and architect of the buy-back agreement. “Our suppliers stepped-up for our customers by agreeing to keep our existing liquor stores fully-stocked through the last day of public sales on May 31, 2012.”

Entering into supplier buyback agreement was optional, but there are significant benefits including the ability to have special orders fulfilled, participate in the spirits tasting pilot, and continue to have marketing displays in state stores.

Wine Products
While nearly all spirits products are covered by a buy-back agreement, some of the largest wine suppliers chose not to join the buyback agreement because of market avenues elsewhere.

Approximately 22 percent of all wine products sold in liquor stores are covered by a buy-back agreement. Existing wine stock not covered by the agreement is considered risk inventory and will not be replenished once the inventory is depleted. Wine represents less than five percent of overall sales at state liquor stores.

As part of the agreement, remaining spirits, beer or wine inventory will be packaged for shipment and returned to the Distribution Center in Seattle for consolidation and pickup. A per-case fee is included in the agreement to cover shipping and handling.

Licenses Applications
The WSLCB has been administering spirits distribution and retail licenses since the December 8, 2011. As of January 9, there are 154 spirits retailer applications and six spirits distributor applications. Pending licenses will be available soon on the Frequently Requested Lists page of our website.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board’s mission is to contribute to the safety and financial stability of our communities by ensuring the responsible sale, and preventing the misuse of, alcohol and tobacco. The WSLCB returned $425 million in Fiscal Year 2011 to fund essential state and local services. More information is available on the WSLCB website at



Printer-friendly version