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Thursday, July 21, 2011

$700K Could Be Saved At State Liquor Dispensary

The following is a letter submitted to the Idaho Joint Legislative Oversight Committee from the Office of Performance Evaluations:

"January 25, 2011

Joint Legislative Oversight Committee
Idaho Legislature

In March 2010, you directed us to evaluate the Idaho State Liquor Division.  We focused our evaluation in three areas:  (1) evaluating operational efficiencies, (2) identifying growth of the division, and (3) determining the feasibility of privatizing the state's liquor system.

We found that the division has grown substantially in the past five years.  During this same time, expenses have increased at a faster rate than both sales and net profits.  We estimate that nearly $700,000 could be saved annually if some of the state-operated stores with the lowest sales were converted to contract stores.

We recommend the division implement annual customer service training, establish data-driven criteria for store placement, track purchases by zip code, and identify those stores that would benefit the state if expanded, relocated, closed, or converted to contract stores.

While it is not possible to predict exact outcomes of privatizing Idaho's liquor system, the report discusses the potential impact of privatization, assuming the state would want to continue receiving the same level of revenue from the sale of liquor.  We have developed an interactive worksheet (available on our website) that allows users to modify the values of our assumptions to further understand the likely impact of privatization.

We thank division officials and staff for their cooperation and assistance throughout this study.  The report includes responses from the Liquor Division and the Governor.


Rakesh  Mohan"

I have lived in Idaho since the late 1970's and always thought it rather odd folks had to go to a state liquor store to buy liquor.  Even more odd what the inability to buy it by the quart.  Why the State of Idaho is in the retail liquor business is indeed a strange statutory custom.  The State could still collect the sin tax levied against liquor and remain revenue neutral without the cost of running retail stores and distribution.  This report is a welcome sign that I might be able to go to my local grocery store and buy my liquor or anywhere licensed to sell the stuff.  Time for the Idaho Legislature to move into the 21st century.


  1. I feel like a bootlegger every time I go south to Nevada or California I buy myself a case of whiskey in what used to be called half gallons but are now 1.75L containers. I go really cheap and buy the ALBERTSON'S BRAND or some other store brand bottle in the supermarkets.

    I think all this temperance comes from the dominant religion in the legislature. It has nothing to do with statistics on alcohol abuse. We had 14 years of Prohibition that was undone in 1933 with the 21st amendment to the Constitution. It might be time for Idaho to catch up.

  2. Idaho's beer wine and liquor laws seem to me to be pretty much on par with other western states, excepting Utah, and somewhat more liberal than the northeast and their package stores, until you get to the state operated liquor stores in Idaho's urban areas. Beer and particularly wine are marketed aggressively and widely available in a variety of private retail venues. The liquor "dispensory" concept controlling price, selection, location and operation is a post WW2 concept that is dying a slow death with a contradictory mission statement. If an Idaho politician or their family were to start a distillary in Idaho, the wheels of change would be greased. Until then we are getting a free economics lesson showing the superiority of state operated business models.

  3. Maybe John McGee should start a distillery!

  4. Sen. McGee serves on the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee. He would be a good person to carry any legislation that would privatize liquor sales in Idaho. It is the LDS contingent in the Legislature who pose a problem with getting the State out of the Liquor business.

    It is an unfortunate reality there isn't much separation between church and state on this matter in Idaho.

  5. Who cares. Lets just let the wino's and alcoholics buy their liquor whenever and wherever they want. I think it has been proven they will go to extra ordinary measures to get it regardless. Limiting when or where it is sold isn't accomplishing anything except creating a monopoly for the state. I say let Albertson's sell it all.

  6. I say, do not sell booze in liquor stores. Only sell it in a by the drink establishment. More bars will have to open, bringing more businesses and jobs. Instant economic recovery, problem solved.

    Of course the wino's will have to drink only during bar hours......


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