Want to sell liquor where it’s sold in West Seattle now? Bid!

March 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm | In West Seattle news, WS beverages | 6 Comments

As of today, you can bid on the right to sell liquor, when privatization kicks in June 1st, at (or near) the sites of existing state stores, including the two in West Seattle. The auction listings also include some interesting facts about those stores. Example: Here’s the bidding page for the Westwood Village store, less than two years old. It mentions that the store’s gross sales totaled $3.5 million last year. And here’s the bidding page for the new “premier” store in The Junction, not open long enough for a full year of sales stats. Exactly what does the winning bidder get? Kind of complicated, but explained here.

6 Comments

  1. I’m guessing that nothing is what you get from winning this bid. As of June 1st, 98% of liquor will be bought at grocery stores/Costco.

    Comment by Alex — 2:49 pm March 8, 2012 #

  2. Which reminds me that I should have noted – the two liquor stores are both stone’s-throw away from QFCs, which already have applied for spirits licenses. And in the case of the Junction store, Safeway too.

    Comment by WSB — 3:08 pm March 8, 2012 #

  3. @Alex

    You could say the same thing about beer and wine yet the Beer Junction and Bin 41 seem to do ok just a stone throw away from QFC and Safeway. The key to making one of these stores succeed is going to be a knowledgeable sales staff and carrying products that the other stores don’t. You can’t compete with the QFC on Smirnoff, or compete with Costco on 1.75L bottles of the stuff that they carry. However, having a diverse range of Bourbons, Scotch, and other Whiskey; carrying as much local product as possible; and having selections of things that the big guys don’t (Apple Jack, fruit brandies, cachaca) could be a recipe for success.

    Comment by Andrew Beck — 3:19 pm March 8, 2012 #

  4. @Andrew (is that how you do it?) is right- this same strategy is working for record stores too- how do Easy Street and Sonic Boom (as well as Silver Platters) stay in business while the big guys like Wherehouse and Tower go out of business? Lots of people buy at Amazon and other on-line retailers, but nothing beats stopping by a record store to browse, ask the knowledgable sales staff a question, soak up the ambience or to discover something you never knew existed; something that you would not find looking on a computer.

    The liquor experience of the future will be similar- a good liquor store will have ambience, a good sales staff and interesting products you didn’t even know about. Big grocery stores will have cheap Smirnoff and Skyy. I’m betting that there are enough smart and curious liquor consumers here in West Seattle to keep a couple of good liquor stores in business.

    Stock the potato vodka and you’ll have my business!

    Comment by valvashon — 8:05 pm March 8, 2012 #

  5. The state is also taking bids on the entire lot of 167 liquor store licenses. The most likely outcome at this point is that a large chain buys the entire lot and thus gets a statewide monopoly on “small” (<10,000 square feet) liquor stores. Nothing stopping 7-11 from doing this – the auction is just for the license and there's a provision for relocation within a mile of the existing licensed premise as long as the new location isn't bigger.

    Or, Costco/QFC/Safeway/take-your-pick could just buy and mothballs the whole lot of licenses to kill any boutique store competition before it starts.

    By the way, liquor prices are going to go up in the private stores, not down. Watch.

    Comment by Admiral Boozy — 9:53 pm March 8, 2012 #

  6. Privatization is not guaranteed to improve anything previously performed by the state. The only thing it guarantees is that money will be taken out of the pockets of the people doing the work, and put into the pockets of the new owners of the businesses. This is what has happened with privatization across the country.

    In this case there should be a benefit in selection and possibly service, as retail isn’t something the government has any skill or advantage in providing. That’s why I voted for it. But given that the law still requires a goodly hunk of taxes be added to the price of liquor (again…this is why I supported it) I don’t see prices going down. I concur with Admiral Boozy that we’re likely to see prices increase…especially if all the lincenses are scooped up by one huge entity.

    Comment by WS Steve — 11:27 am March 9, 2012 #

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