Distribution Blues

Scotland BoundTomorrow I will fly to Denver in advance of the American Distilling Institute annual conference.  The astute reader will note that the Conference doesn’t really start until Monday,  and tomorrow is Friday, and therefore I seem to be leaving early.  That is true enough.  And it is also true enough that there is a relatively foolhardy field trip for my early arrival.

But back to Denver.

I always enjoy the chance to visit with distillers and other spirits industry folks.  But this year there’s an extra benefit to my attending; Colorado is the nearest state to Washington in which one of my clients has distribution.  This client makes some really good stuff – so good in fact that I want to have one particular bottle of their hooch for the client shelves in my office and am planning to also take one bottle home for personal consumption.  It really is that good (and I’m not alone in thinking that – the bottle received some recognition in the 2019 American Craft Spirits Association awards as well – wish I could say which one it was but there’s that pesky attorney/client confidentiality thing gets in the way).

So in advance of my trip to Denver, my trusty assistant was able to find online a retailer that carries this spirit and have them reserve a couple of bottles for some guy in a bowtie who may – or may not, depending on when I pick them up in relation to my foolhardy field trip, be limping.  And I will then very carefully pack them in my suitcase and check that bag on the plane so that I can bring them back home to Seattle with me.

Does this make any sense?  I can order almost anything that is federally legal for sale on Amazon – but I can’t manage to get a bottle shipped the roughly 1,000 miles between the distillery and my office?

I understand that there are entrenched interests in play here.  But shouldn’t we try to begin addressing those?  Shouldn’t we expand Granholm to spirits?  We claim to be working to make it easier for small businesses to succeed.  What about these particular small businesses – spirits businesses – which are already among the most highly taxed (and highly regulated) of all our industries but are operating in most cases at a serious competitive disadvantage to their larger competitors.

Shouldn’t we try to level the playing field at least a bit?


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