Business

State liquor storefronts open for sale to privateers

Looking to get into the liquor business? This might be your chance.

State liquor stores all across Washington, including Bonney lake and Sumner are now being surplussed and auctioned off to the highest bidder in time to get the government out of the alcohol business by the June deadline set by last fall's voter initiative.

The auction gives local business people the opportunity to buy the rights to apply for a liquor license at the current locations of 167 stores around the Evergreen State.

Both the Bonney Lake store on state Route 410 and the Alder Avenue store in Sumner are among those whose rights are being auctioned.

"We're directed to do this," said Brian Smith, communications director for the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

Buckley's liquor store is not state-run and is neither closing nor for sale.

Initiative 1183, which voters approved in 2011, calls for the state to sell its existing liquor store properties. However, the state leases most of its properties, so the auction is only for the right to operate that store. The buyer must make their own deal with the property's landlord or can move the store within a mile of the current location.

According to Smith, word from most property owners is that they are willing to make deals.

"Most of our landlords don't want to lose a tenant," he said.

The Liquor Control Board is actually running two auctions at the same time, offering the rights to individual stores as well as to the entire system. Smith said the Liquor Control Board will make the final decision based on what gets the state the "maximum reasonable value" on its stores.

Further information on the auction, including a fact sheet, frequently asked questions and terms and conditions are all available on the liquor control board's website.

The minimum bid per store is $1,000. Inventory will be available for optional purchase at a fixed-rate option based on the ending inventory of each location as of May 31.

The online auction closes April 20 and an announcement of the winning bid or bids is tentatively scheduled for April 30.

For more information or to bid on the rights to a liquor store, visit www.liq.wa.gov.

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