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Some state liquor stores back on auction block

The state has already collected nearly $26 million in bids from the auction of 149 liquor stores after Washington voters approved a measure privatizing liquor sales. (AP Photo/File)

If you’ve ever wanted to own your own liquor store, now’s
your second chance. The state is auctioning off the rights
to 18 outlets after winning bidders failed to pay their
bills following last month’s online auction.

“These are individuals who failed to come in with their
final payments, so they’ve effectively defaulted on the bids
they placed,” said Pat McLaughlin, Liquor Control Board
Director of Business Enterprise.

The state has already collected nearly $26 million in bids
from the auction of 149 liquor stores after Washington
voters approved a measure privatizing liquor sales.

The remaining outlets include several in both Seattle and
Tacoma, including one location in Pierce County that
garnered the highest bid in the online auction.

The rights will be made available in a live auction on May
24
at the Liquor Control Board Distribution Center in
Seattle.

The state-run liquor system was formed in the 1930s in the aftermath of Prohibition. Voters approved I-1183 last fall allowing stores larger than 10,000 square feet to sell liquor, though smaller stores could sell liquor if there are no other outlets within a certain area.

Meanwhile, the Washington Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday over the constitutionality of the measure. At issue is whether the initiative violates state rules requiring measures to address only one subject, because it includes a provision to set aside $10 million for public safety.

Washington closed 14 of its liquor stores in April to deal with store employees leaving for new jobs as stores prepare to close and grocery stores prepare to pick up the slack.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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