Maryland Considers Privatizing Liquor Sales

The only place residents of Montgomery County, Maryland, can purchase liquor is in county-owned stores, which until recently were only open six days a week. However, some big changes might be on the way for Montgomery.

Beginning on November 21st the county will run a pilot program, allowing the county’s 24 county-owned stores to remain open on Sundays for the next six months to test the waters (translation: to see how much money they can bring into the county). The move has private stores up in arms — claiming that now they’ll have to compete with government-run stores and lose revenue and customers as a result. According to Scott Yates, whose father owns Olney Beer and Fine Wine:

“It will hurt us pretty bad,” he said. “Sundays are part of the weekend. We sort of look forward to that day and them being closed, when we can do business and not worry about competing with [the county].”

Rather than opposing Sunday sales, Montgomery County alcohol outlets ought to be supporting the closure of the county-run stores; a proposal that just might be under consideration.

According to the Rockville Patch, County Executive Ike Leggett — the same official that ordered the six-month Sunday sale pilot program — is considering completely privatizing liquor sales in the county.

While his comments were very tentative, it should give Montgomery County store owners a legitimate target: end county sales: “Leggett said he would ask the Department of Liquor Control to study the privatization issue and the pros and cons of Sunday sales after the six-month Sunday sales trial concludes in May.”

The county currently collects around $28 million in profit each year from liquor sales and any privatization plan will likely attempt to protect that revenue. If liquor store owners in Montgomery County don’t want to compete with government-run stores, they should get on board with privatization in their county and the greater D.C. Metro area.