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  1. #1
    Enthusiast
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    Feb 2013
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    PacNW
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    288

    Price variations throughout the US

    Yesterday I was browsing the shelves of a respected Seattle wine and spirits merchant and saw Old Grand Dad 114 for $30.95 and Elmer T. Lee for $44.95. These prices seem high, but include 27% in state taxes built into the shelf tag price and are average among Washington State retailers. Only the biggest national chains are able to sell lower due to nationally negotiated pricing contracts (and other slimy, likely illegal business tactics).

    Washington also has crazy sales and sin taxes on spirits, so my out-the-door price on the OGD114 would be $40.12 and the ETL checks out at $56.99.

    It made me really question what I consider value pours because these prices put them on par with what others are paying for ultra-premium brands and limited releases.

    Being on the west coast where it often takes a full day of driving to reach beyond one adjacent state, I don't have ready access to other markets. I'm curious if others, particularly on the east coast, use state lines as a shopping "tool" when making every day purchases.

  2. #2
    Connoisseur
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    Apr 2012
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    882

    Re: Price variations throughout the US

    Quote Originally Posted by DBM View Post
    Yesterday I was browsing the shelves of a respected Seattle wine and spirits merchant and saw Old Grand Dad 114 for $30.95 and Elmer T. Lee for $44.95. These prices seem high, but include 27% in state taxes built into the shelf tag price and are average among Washington State retailers. Only the biggest national chains are able to sell lower due to nationally negotiated pricing contracts (and other slimy, likely illegal business tactics).

    Washington also has crazy sales and sin taxes on spirits, so my out-the-door price on the OGD114 would be $40.12 and the ETL checks out at $56.99.

    It made me really question what I consider value pours because these prices put them on par with what others are paying for ultra-premium brands and limited releases.

    Being on the west coast where it often takes a full day of driving to reach beyond one adjacent state, I don't have ready access to other markets. I'm curious if others, particularly on the east coast, use state lines as a shopping "tool" when making every day purchases.
    There's still some places that ship to Washington if I'm not mistaken. I'd be checking those out.
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  3. #3
    Virtuoso
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Sutton, Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,218

    Re: Price variations throughout the US

    DBM, yes, I make full use of my neighboring states, but I'd say most of the stock is the same stuff and prices, with some exceptions, are all within a few dollars of each other. So the gas prices even at these short distances rarely make economic sense. Mostly it is finding stuff that is out of stock in your area that is on the shelf somewhere else.

    I did get a handle of Old Heaven Hill 8 yr old in RI that apparently is only available there and in MN - haven't opened it yet though. I get lots of nice SKUs and store selections at Julio's and great prices on the high volume stuff at Wegman's and BJ's Warehouse.
    Mark

  4. #4
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    Jul 2013
    Location
    New Mexico
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    286

    Re: Price variations throughout the US

    I live in New Mexico so its a 4 hr round trip for me to get to the nearest other state, but I will say this:

    I stayed in Massachusetts on vacation this summer with high taxes on liquor and limited selection in most stores. When driving north to Maine, right on the New Hampshire border of the freeway, both directions and with their own exits, were NH state run liquor stores with way better selection,prices, and they were selling on Sunday.... They were doing a huge business and people buying liquor by the shopping cart full. so not only individuals play that game but states as well.

    If I were forced to live in Massachusetts I would drive to New Hampshire to buy without a second thought.

    Also I travel a lot for work, and many times my suitcases are checked luggage on the way back due to holding 5-6 bottles of "other state" bought bourbon.

  5. #5
    Virtuoso
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    Apr 2011
    Location
    Sutton, Massachusetts
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    1,218

    Re: Price variations throughout the US

    Yeah, I know both of those stores on I-95 - I used to live just over the border in MA and went there almost every other weekend.

    A few years back MA and NH got into a squabble about the tax revenue, and the MA state troopers were sitting right over the line and were filling tractor trailers with confiscated booze as you re-entered MA. They were just calling in the plates as you pulled out of the parking lot back onto I-95S. Since then, MA has allowed Sunday sales after noon in stores that I believe are within 12 miles of any border - which covers a good bit of the state. Some of the larger retail outlets (like a Costco, BJ's) can also now sell on Sunday's after noon. Takes awhile to move off those Puritan ways...
    Mark

  6. #6
    Guru
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    Sep 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MS
    Posts
    12,136

    Re: Price variations throughout the US

    Centuries even . . . . . . . .
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  7. #7
    Enthusiast
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    Sep 2012
    Location
    Markham, ONT
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    490

    Re: Price variations throughout the US

    Quote Originally Posted by squire View Post
    Centuries even . . . . . . . .
    Ontario is working to your time-table.

  8. #8
    Guru
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    Sep 2004
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    Jackson, MS
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    12,136

    Re: Price variations throughout the US

    So are parts of the Country that are still dry.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  9. #9
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Toledo, OH
    Posts
    806

    Re: Price variations throughout the US

    Quote Originally Posted by DBM View Post
    Washington also has crazy sales and sin taxes on spirits, so my out-the-door price on the OGD114 would be $40.12 and the ETL checks out at $56.99.
    One of my usual rants on SB is the state control of liquor prices and, more important to me, availability of bourbon brands in OH. Does $40 for OGD114 seem outrageous? How about not being able to get it at any price? We do a high percentage of our bourbon shopping in KY but, from Toledo, TPS is a little more than 200 miles away. MA to NH it ain't. Sometimes we pay a premium price in OH (Blanton's is $10 more than in AZ) but nothing approaching the levels mentioned by DBM. But most people who live in Blue states will tell you that taxes are the price you pay for civilization. I could live with just a tad more bourbon and a tad less "civilization."
    If God made anything better than bourbon he must have kept it for Hisself.

  10. #10
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Commonwealth of Bourbon
    Posts
    995

    Re: Price variations throughout the US

    Quote Originally Posted by DBM View Post
    Yesterday I was browsing the shelves of a respected Seattle wine and spirits merchant and saw Old Grand Dad 114 for $30.95 and Elmer T. Lee for $44.95. These prices seem high, but include 27% in state taxes built into the shelf tag price and are average among Washington State retailers. Only the biggest national chains are able to sell lower due to nationally negotiated pricing contracts (and other slimy, likely illegal business tactics).

    Washington also has crazy sales and sin taxes on spirits, so my out-the-door price on the OGD114 would be $40.12 and the ETL checks out at $56.99.

    It made me really question what I consider value pours because these prices put them on par with what others are paying for ultra-premium brands and limited releases.

    Being on the west coast where it often takes a full day of driving to reach beyond one adjacent state, I don't have ready access to other markets. I'm curious if others, particularly on the east coast, use state lines as a shopping "tool" when making every day purchases.
    Yes, every resource is used to it's advantage. KY and VA historically always had the lowest cigarette taxes around and were "drive in" states for the purpose of purchasing large quantities and moving them to outside markets for resell. TN always historically had lower alcohol tax (and much greater availability) due to the vast areas of KY and VA that were dry. We always looked at it as a "fair trade off". Obviously these factors are much easier to exploit when living near multiple state borders, as in the area where I was raised.

 

 

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