Pull the cork on liquor jobs

With liquor sales going private in June, how are Snohomish County’s spirits?

Big liquor retailers have been checking out the state since the passage of Initiative 1183, according to news reports, scouting out sites to open stores.

An East Coast company called Total Wine &More plans to open two stores in Spokane and one in Seattle, according to the Spokesman-Review, while the Seattle Times reports that the plans so far are for two in Seattle and one in Spokane. The chain — with 78 stores in 11 states — plans to open 10 shops in Washington eventually, including stores in Vancouver and Tacoma, the Times reported. Additionally, it’s reported that Liquor Depot and Beverages and More have begun shopping for spots in the Puget Sound region.

Total Wine &More, according to its website, is America’s Wine Superstore® — the country’s largest independent retailer of fine wine.

Total Wine stores are usually 20,000 square feet or larger, hire about 30 workers, and stock their shelves from an inventory of up to 8,000 wine choices, 3,000 choices for spirits and 2,000 beers. (Its website lists that it carries 252 Washington wines. The Washington State Wine Commission says the state has more than 740 wineries. And since Washington is second only to California in producing wine, and California has private liquor sales, it should all work out in the marketplace.)

Total Wine president David Trone told the Times its prices match Costco’s, and that he expects liquor prices to fall over time due to increased competition. But Total Wine isn’t about “cheap” liquor — the company aims at customers who make $100,000, Trone said. The company is attracted by Washington’s high incomes and education level, as well as its above-average alcohol-consumption rate, Trone said.

Like Costco, the major warehouse player (and driver of the new law), Total Wine appears to be a good company to work for, offering benefits and room for advancement. (Opportunities and benefits can be found at Totalwine.com.) Each new store will have managerial and non-managerial positions. But such a large company also has numerous opportunities at the corporate level, from human resources to IT and computer services.

So with liquor retailers out shopping for store sites in the state, we hope Everett and Snohomish County are among those courting the businesses.

Unless a legal challenge prevails, the state will be out of the liquor business and private sales will start on June 1. Where are Snohomish County’s new stores going to be located? What communities will get to offer a toast to new jobs?

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