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State liquor store auction totals $30.75 million

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) auctioned the rights to apply for a spirits retail liquor license at 167 state-run liquor stores, and the sum of individual bids totaled $30.75 million, with rights awarded to 121 individual successful bidders. The online auction ended in a flurry of bidding on its final day, April 20.

Voter-approved Initiative 1183 directed the WSLCB to auction the state store properties at their current locations. However, the state leases the properties, not owns, creating a unique circumstance for the auction.

Successful bidders earned the exclusive right to apply for a liquor license at the current location within its current footprint. All state store properties are below the 10,000-square-foot threshold established by the initiative. Successful bidders will need to secure a lease with the property landlord. If they are unable to secure a lease, they may resell their right or request an alternative location within a one-mile radius of the existing location.

The WSLCB ran two simultaneous auctions to achieve “maximum reasonable value,” as stated in the initiative. The first accepted bids for each individual store. The second auction was for all store locations available for a single bid, with the state taking the higher of the two. The high bid for acquiring all the stores was $4.6 million.

There were 551 registered bidders, with 93 individuals buying single stores and 28 bidders who bought multiple stores!

The highest winning bid for $750,100 for Store 122 at 72nd and Pacific in Tacoma. The lowest winning bid for $49,600 for a store in Spokane.

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