Liquor sales expand in Issaquah, statewide June 1
May 15, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
The availability of liquor in Issaquah is poised to expand beyond a single storefront next month, as major retailers prepare to add spirits to store shelves and the state completes the process to privatize liquor sales.
Bartell Drugs, Fred Meyer, Front Street Market, Rite Aid, Safeway, Target, QFC, Walgreens and Costco received licenses to sell liquor. (QFC received licenses for the Northwest Gilman Boulevard and Klahanie stores.)
Until the transition to liquor privatization is completed, liquor is available only at a state-run store.
In the meantime, entrepreneurs purchased the rights to apply for a retail spirits license at the state-run liquor store along Northwest Gilman Boulevard and a liquor store under construction in the Klahanie Shopping Center.
State records show the right to the Issaquah store sold to Seattle merchant Leon Capelouto for $251,000. The right to the unfinished Klahanie store sold to Milton entrepreneur Jeffrey Roh for $82,100.
Construction on the Klahanie store started before a statewide liquor privatization initiative passed last year.
Issaquah-based Costco — the largest employer in the city — led the push to pass the measure, Initiative 1183, in November. Statewide, almost 60 percent of voters supported the liquor-privatization measure. I-1183 garnered lopsided support in the Issaquah area.
The measure requires state-run liquor stores to close and for the state to get out of the liquor business. The measure also calls for the state to license private enterprises to sell and distribute hard liquor, set license fees based on sales and regulate licensees.
I-1183 limits hard liquor sales to stores of at least 10,000 square feet. Under the initiative, licensed and qualified businesses can start liquor sales June 1.
The state raised almost $31 million by selling rights to the network of liquor stores statewide. The auction ended in a flurry of bidding April 21, and the Washington State Liquor Control Board awarded rights to 121 bidders.
Successful bidders earned the exclusive right to apply for a liquor license at the current state store location. Every state store property is less than the 10,000-square-foot threshold established in I-1183, but can still sell spirits due to exemptions in the law. (The store in Issaquah measures 4,707 square feet.)
The next step for bidders is to secure a lease from the property landlord. If a bidder cannot secure a lease, he or she may resell the right or request another location within a 1-mile radius of the existing store.
State records show the Issaquah liquor store generated $6.6 million in gross sales during the 2011 fiscal year and $6.4 million in gross sales during the 2010 fiscal year. Officials estimated the store employed about seven people.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or email@example.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.