Local liquor stores will likely still sell booze

Nov 14, 2011

Maybe you’re a regular and know the cashiers by name, or maybe you only go in once a year - to pick up some rum to make that eggnog a little more grown-up. In any case, you might be surprised to learn your local state run liquor store could remain a liquor store.

Brian Smith of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, said the recently passed initiative folds the existing liquor licenses in to the new system.

"If it’s an existing state store location there’s going to be a license available that’s going to cover that," said Smith. "And in many cases it’ll be in the same place where the existing state store is now."

In other words, there are 166 stores in the state and there will be 166 licenses. And those are going to get auctioned off in January. Which means they’ll go to the highest bidder and they’ll be exempt from meeting the 10,000 square ft. requirement for new liquor retailers.

Ultimately, said Smith, it’s up to landlords to if decide if they want a privately run liquor store in their space.  If they say yes, then the new license holder can hang up a new shingle and open up shop.  "If they choose not to we will try to make a license available in that area up for bid," he said.

But don’t expect to see any changes soon. The state will continue to operate liquor stores until May 31, 2012.