PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Thirsty Oregonians have driven Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission’s warehouse to 98% capacity, but the agency’s plans for a new warehouse are underway.

Commissioners discussed what would happen without a second warehouse, the latest liquor trends, increasing sales and more at their monthly meeting on Thursday, Dec. 15.

Drinkers may be buying less booze by volume, but OLCC reports that they’re buying more top-shelf products, tequila and pre-made cocktails.

“At the onset [of the pandemic], consumers were ‘stocking up’ on liquor just as they were with other commodities (e.g. – toilet paper),” Mark Pettinger, spokesperson for the OLCC told KOIN 6 in an email. “As the pandemic lingered, public activities remained limited by public health measures (e.g. social distancing, masking), and people remained at home consumers began shifting in higher numbers from standard liquor products to more premium selections.”

Despite bars and restaurants coming back in full force, people are still opting to buy high-quality products for their at-home liquor collections. According to Distilled Spirits Program Director Chris Mayton, these trends are leading to an overall increase in liquor sales.

OLCC’s need to have a supply that meets consumers’ demands is why the agency is planning to open a warehouse in a Canby business park by September 2025. Pettinger says the anticipated move-in date should only be postponed in the case of supply chain challenges or funding issues.

If those obstacles do defer the new warehouse, OLCC and the entire state could be affected by the loss of sales. According to a 2019 study done by Deloitte Consulting, the commission could lose $229.8 million if the new building plans are pushed to 2026.

This wouldn’t merely impact local liquor lovers. OLCC contributes to some of Oregon’s most significant programs, including the addiction programs it reportedly contributed $19 million to during the latest state budget period.

“As the state’s 3rd largest revenue generator (and this would still be the case even if we didn’t count cannabis sales) the impacts are considerable,” Pettinger said. “There would be less revenue to fund state programs. What programs would be jeopardized is difficult to project because OLCC generated revenue goes into the state’s general fund, and budget decisions are up to the legislature.”