Help Put State Bill 5731 Allowing Specialty Shops to Sell Craft Spirits to a Vote

March 5th, 2014 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

You’ve probably heard of SB 5731, which would allow Washington beer/wine specialty shops to also sell spirits manufactured by small craft distilleries. I’ve read a few news outlet reports today that make it sound like this bill is completely dead, but the truth is that your help is needed to convince Frank Chopp, Speaker of the House, to put the bill to a vote in the House. You can email him at or call him at 360-786-7920 to show your support. 

SB 5731 would be a win for both small, locally-owned beer/wine retailers, but also for the small distilleries themselves. For background on the bill and why you might want to support it, below is a letter that Erika Tedin, owner of Full Throttle Bottles in Georgetown, crafted to send to Chopp.

Dear Representatives,
My name is Erika Tedin and I am a beer/wine specialty shop owner. I own Full Throttle Bottles in the historic (and oldest) neighborhood of Georgetown, just North of Boeing Field. I fully support SSB 5731, the bill allowing beer/wine specialty shops to sell spirits made by small craft distilleries. Please help my small business by supporting SSB 5731.
With the passing of 1183 and the invasion of the giant out of state big box liquor stores, it has been incredibly difficult to stay competitive. Let alone stay in business. While I understand the 10k square foot rule as it pertains to convenience stores & gas stations, I believe the smaller specialty stores are better able to handle the concerns of underage drinking & theft, among other issues.
For example, I believe it was a Bev Mo that sold to a minor in the past few months & was fined and closed for 5 days. And they are certainly over 10k square feet. Small stores have a LOT more at stake. We are locally owned & it is OUR reputation, and OUR livelihoods at stake. We don’t have cavernous buildings to control. For many of us, hard alcohol product can be stored behind the counter, or otherwise subjected to tighter security and surveillance. We have proven track records with the LCB and reputations with our customers to sell only the best. For us it is more about quality rather than quantity. It’s not just about the bottom line and dollars earned, but serving our customers to the best of our abilities.
Allowing us to sell and represent small craft distilleries will allow not only us, but the small distilleries, the opportunity to present quality products not just sold in 1.7 liters  (half gallon) jugs at the mega box store. I have no interest in selling rot gut nasty stuff, I have never sold alca-pops (high alcohol sweet beverages aimed at younger folks) or malt liquors like Steel Reserve, 4 Loko etc. I run an internationally recognized & rated store with pride and love and devotion. Trust me, I’m not in it for the money, but I’m also not in it to lose my shirt to the big boys.
Here is my rating on
That’s an excellent or 90, and # 9 in the rankings in all of Seattle. Though everyone else is a bar, so I like to call myself the #1 store. 🙂
And here is my rating on
That’s a world-class rating or 95. Again, #1 in stores.
Furthermore, to exemplify my standing in the local beer industry, I was included in Seattle Magazine’s October issue:
I want you to see that stores such as mine are respected and admired. We have a lot more at stake than some out of town corporate businesses not interested in anything but the bottom line. We respect the law. We will continue to respect the law, and we are examples of the faces of the small businesses who need this bill to pass. We want to educate people and provide ALL selections, not just those deemed suitable because of an arbitrary footprint or trade area.
In summation, we provide the best of the craft and small breweries, wineries, cideries, and meaderies. It’s what I love & what I do best. I want to do the same for the small craft distilleries. An randomly chosen 10k footprint requirement does NOT prevent minors from access, and does NOT prevent theft. But a vigilant and attentive small business can provide support, knowledge, passion, and pride. And we’re a heck of a lot more vigilant because it’s MY money being eyed for theft, not some out of state corporate big wig or upper level management’s bonus. We deserve the right to compete in this industry as it was originally intended. Not as it was bastardized by big business when they bought Initiative 1183 and changed the rules. When it becomes cheaper for me to purchase wine at a competing big box competitor’s retail location than it does to purchase it from my distributor, you know the playing field is skewed & the laws biased. That is the result of 1183. By putting small businesses back on a level economic playing field  you can help give them the chance to retain and earn customers.
All I am asking for is the opportunity to present the best possible selection of adult beverages to my customers. Forget the corporate price rates for bulk purchases way beyond our means, we just want the opportunity to sell the same type of product. And those pricing issues? Yes, they make us more expensive than those businesses that have corporate contracts or even the small stores that sell draft beer. The small stores will make more money in draft & serving pints than we ever will in bottles, but it’s selection and choice I want to offer, not just a bar to belly up to. And that choice includes craft distilleries. 
Please, if you really want small business to succeed in Washington, show us by passing this bill. Otherwise it all just looks like lip service to me. And the general public, who doesn’t understand the intricacies of this industry, simply doesn’t understand why we can’t sell spirits. So pass the bill and let’s help every small business from production to storefront provide amazing products to the customers who want them, and are legally able to buy them.
Erika Tedin
Full Throttle Bottles – A Specialty Beer & Wine Store
5909 Airport Way S
Seattle, WA 98108


2 Comments so far ↓

  • Erika Tedin

    Thank you Geoff. This is so important for not just the craft distilleries, but the cideries, wineries, and the breweries. Without the small stores to highlight & present limited items from these producers, they will never reach the market. So even if you don’t drink spirits, you won’t want to lose beer stores!!

  • Erika Tedin

    Here’s a summary statement from just a couple of us:

    The poor are getting poorer, the rich are getting richer, and corporate America is killing small business.

    This is especially true in Washington State’s liquor industry.

    Two years ago, Washington’s liquor industry was corporatized when Initiative 1183 passed, allowing stores over 10,000 square feet in size to sell hard liquor. This initiative was written by corporate America, for corporate America, and had very predictable results.

    Big-box stores like BevMo and Total Wine quickly moved into Washington. But where did that leave small, family-owned businesses like mine? The answer: boxed out.

    Small shops have been going out of business in droves ever since. In order for us remaining shop owners to survive, our elected representatives must level the playing field by giving us the tools we need to succeed. Fortunately, there is a bill in the Washington State House of Representatives that does just that.

    ESSB 5731 — sponsored by democrat Senator Karen Keiser and supported by senators from both parties — allows small beer/wine shops like mine to sell hard liquor made by small distillers, mostly craft distillers. The bill overwhelmingly passed the Senate 43-4, but has since stalled in the House.

    It is essential that we jump-start the bill by telling our representatives: If you really want to help small business, show us by passing 5731. Give us the tools we need to succeed.

    Small shops provide excellent customer service. We carry products that no one else carries, and our shops are set up to sell liquor safely. Kids never come into my store, and I don’t have shoplifting problems. Compare that to the BevMo store in Ballard that was recently fined and temporarily closed for selling to a minor (KOMO News story).

    If lawmakers are truly concerned about public safety, then they should have small specialty shops like mine do all the liquor sales.

    Small distillers, microbrewers and family wineries also support 5731. Costco and other big-box stores don’t carry their products, and they need us for shelf space and for our expertise. Specialty products are what we do best.

    We’re in this together. Let’s help every small business — from production to storefront — provide amazing products to the customers who want them and are legally able to buy them.

    To support small business, please contact Washington State Speaker Frank Chopp and urge him to pass ESSB 5731. You can contact him at 360-786-7920 or

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