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Did You Know You Can Buy Liquor In Maine At Warehouse Clubs Without A Membership?

Bottles of liquor
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So this is something I never knew before. In the state of Maine, you can actually go into those giant warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and BJ’s and buy liquor without having a club membership.

Yup, it’s true, but there are some catches, and you probably won’t save any money.

I found out about this when I stumbled upon a story from the website Consumerist. It said that there were certain states where customers could buy liquor at the big warehouse clubs (Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s Club) at member prices without a membership. While Maine doesn’t have a Costco, it does have other similar clubs, so I wondered if this applied to Maine?

Turns out it does. According to David Heidrich, Jr., the Communications Director for the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, you do not have to be a member in Maine if you are buying distilled spirits such as: vodka, rum, gin, whiskey, etc. However, you do have to be a member if you are buying beer and wine.

The difference, according to Heidrich, is that Maine is what is known as a “control state,” where the state controls the distribution and sale of those hard liquors in the state, and that the state issues licenses to retailers to sell it to the general public with no restrictions. “Spirits licensees get the opportunity to hold a license based or their consideration of sales volume and the idea that these spirits products will be made available to the general public for sale,” Heidrich said.

Additionally, the state sets the prices for all distilled liquors, Heidrich explained, so even if you buy it at a warehouse club, you will still play the same price for the booze as you would at any other store.

Beer and wine on the other hand, are treated differently, Heidrich said. In that case, beer and wine is handled by private distributors and “the sale price of these products is not set by the state and there is no specific requirement during retail licensing that they be made available to the general public. This explains why you need to be a member if you want to buy beer or wine at a wholesale club but not if you’re interested in purchasing distilled spirits.”

And FYI, according to Consumerist, membership is not required for alcohol purchases at BJ’s and Costco in: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Texas and Vermont.

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