Published March 08, 2012
Online auction under way for state-run liquor storesRolf Boone/The Business Blog
An online auction of the state Liquor Control Boards 167 state-run liquor stores began Thursday, including five stores in Thurston County and 18 in Pierce County.The auction is a first for the state as it transitions to private liquor sales, which are set to begin June 1. This comes as a result of the passage of Initiative 1183, largely supported by Costco, which got the state out of the liquor business.The online auction closes April 20 and winning bidders are set to be announced April 30.Heres how it works, according to the state Liquor Control Board:-Winning bidders get the exclusive right to apply for the liquor license at the stores current location within its current footprint.-Minimum bids start at $1,000 per store.-During the auction period, the state is accepting individual store bids as well as bids to purchase the rights to all 167 stores in an all-system bid. Once the auction closes, the state Liquor Control Board will determine whether to select the individual store bids or the all-system bid. An all-system bid likely would come from a company, spokesman Brian Smith said.-Winning bidders will have to secure a lease with the store landlord. If the bidder cant come to an agreement on the lease, they can resell their right to another individual or request an alternate location through the licensing process. Although the stores were state run, the state leased the properties and did not own them.-Winning bidders also will have the option to purchase any remaining liquor inventory at a discount as of May 31. The auction site, which is hosted by the state Department of Enterprise Services, shows pictures of the state-run stores, as well as bidding activity and store details. As of 2 p.m. Thursday, a state-run liquor store in Lacey had no bids and neither did a Tacoma store at 3840 Pacific Avenue. The Lacey store had $4.6 million in gross sales for fiscal 2011, while the Tacoma store had gross sales of $3.1 million, the online data show.Smith said the state doesnt have a projection on the amount of money that might be raised from the auction, although whatever is raised will go into the states general fund.For more information about the auction and links to the auction site, go to www.liq.wa.gov.