OLYMPIA — The rights to operate Washington’s state-owned liquor stores have all been auctioned off, at prices ranging from about $750,000 for a store in Tacoma to just under $50,000 for a store in Spokane. The state will collect $30.7 million from the auction.
The state closed the auction Friday after a flurry of last-minute bids for the rights to the licenses at 167 stores, and winning bids were announced this morning. The state owns the licenses but not the buildings they occupy. New owners will have to negotiate leases with landlords and purchase inventory. If they can’t come to a deal on a lease, they can resell the license or relocate within a mile of the current location.
Winning bids for two Spokane-area stores went to Ranvir Nagra of Veradale. The other Spokane-area stores went to bidders who didn’t receive any other licenses in the county.
The liquor store at 2401 W. Wellesley Ave. drew the smallest bid in the state, at $49,600, and the store in the Manito Shopping Center at 3017 S. Grand Blvd. was second-smallest at $50,100. The top bid for a Spokane-area store was $300,100 for the Spokane Valley store at University City.
The state auctioned the licenses to its liquor stores because voters approved Initiative 1183 last November, which gets the state out of wholesale and retail liquor operations. Under the initiative, most private liquor stores will have to have at least 10,000 square feet of floor space, but the owner of a license from a former state store can operate in a smaller facility.
The auction attracted 551 bidders who cast more than 14,620 bids — including one worth $4.6 million for all 167 stores.
The single largest bid was $750,000 for a store in Tacoma, followed by $500,100 for a store in Seattle.