Business, Economics and Jobs

Washington state liquor store auction makes $31 million


Whisky and tequila at an alcohol shop in New Zealand.


Michael Bradley

Washington state has raised $31 million from hundreds of bidders in a public auction for its 167 state-run liquor stores, the Associated Press reported.

The state will no longer sell hard spirits through government-run liquor stores as of June 1, following a “yes” vote on a ballot initiative backed by Washington-based grocery chain Costco last November, the AP reported.

Voters elected to close state-run liquor stores and allow supermarkets and big-box stores to sell liquor, Reuters reported. (The state already allows these stores to sell beer and wine.)

Stores smaller than 10,000 square feet may also sell liquor if there are no other big stores nearby, according to the AP.

According to the AP:

Nearly 20 states control the retail or wholesale liquor business within their state lines. Some, such as Iowa and West Virginia, have relinquished partial control in recent years, but Washington will be the first in that group to abandon the liquor business entirely.

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Some 14,627 bids were registered, including $4.6 million for the entire liquor store system, which was rejected, the Seattle Post-Inquirer reported. Each winner won the exclusive right to apply for a liquor license at the store's location.

Winning bids ranged from $49,600 for a store in Spokane to $750,100 for a store in Tacoma, the Seattle Post-Inquirer reported.

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