State liquor stores to offer expanded hours starting July 1
June 27, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 6 a.m. June 27, 2011
The state plans to roll out standardized hours at liquor stores July 1.
Under the existing system, hours for the state-run store in Issaquah and 165 other locations vary. Starting in July, the schedule for all state stores is to be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. at the Issaquah store and 57 others open on Sunday.
“Having standard, reliable hours will be a significant improvement in convenience for our customers,” Sharon Foster, Washington State Liquor Control Board chairwoman, said in a statement. “It took an investment by the governor and Legislature to make it possible. We are excited and thankful to have this opportunity and look forward to providing this service to our customers and returning additional revenue as well.”
The liquor board received funding in the 2011-13 state budget to standardize state store hours. The change is projected to generate almost $800,000 in additional revenue through 2013.
“The later hours are not expected to compromise our top priority — public safety,” Pat Kohler, liquor board administrative director, said in a statement. “Washington state liquor stores have among the nation’s highest no-sales-to-minors compliance rate at 95 percent. Additionally, state store employee wages are not based on sales, so they do not have an incentive to sell to teens or apparently intoxicated people.”
The standardization is the initial step in a series of plans outlined in the budget and other legislation.
Plans call for the creation of a pair of high-volume specialty stores in urban markets offering expanded spirit offerings, regional wines and craft beers in a boutique environment.
The liquor board also intends to open additional state stores and contract liquor stores through 2013.
The agency is also establishing a pilot program to allow customers to sample spirits in state and contract stores. The yearlong pilot is to start Sept. 1. Spokesman Brian Smith said the liquor board has yet to select the 30 stores for the program, but said the Issaquah outlet could be a contender to the store’s customer base and location.
Other upgrades in the pipeline include gift cards to be redeemed at state and contract stores, online ordering for pickup at state stores and optional delivery to restaurants.