Capitol Hill’s state liquor stores get eBay treatment but nobody bidding — UPDATE: Do I hear $6k?

Wildcards in our recent look at where on Capitol Hill retailers are planning to sell booze in the new 1183 world are the two state-run liquor stores in the neighborhood on 12th Ave and Broadway. The auction to win rights to *possibly* grandfathers those store locations into the state’s new liquor environment started today — so far, nobody is bidding on Capitol Hill.

State Liquor Store Auctions

Welcome to the state liquor store auction page. On this page you will find the necessary information you need as you consider whether or not to bid.Important: Please read the state store auction fact sheet and frequently asked questions below carefully before proceeding to the auction site.

There are two critical elements of this auction:

1. Rights. Successful bidders will have purchased the exclusive right to apply for a license to sell liquor at a location less than the 10,000 square foot threshold established by state law. Successful bidders will still need to negotiate a lease with the landlord at the existing store location. If you are unable to secure a lease at that location, upon approval of the Liquor Control Board, you may seek an alternative location within a one mile radius of the existing state store.

2. Individual store or system bid. The Liquor Control Board is running two auctions simultaneously. Individual store rights are being auctioned as well an opportunity to purchase all store rights in a single system-wide bid. The Board is charged by law with seeking “maximum reasonable value” for the store rights. Following the auction period, the Board will determine whether to select the individual store bids or a single system-wide bid.

As the guidelines lay out, the online auction of 167 state liquor stores will only transfer the rights to apply for a spirits retailing licenses in locations that don’t meet the 10,000 square-foot 1883 requirement. There is the interesting option, however, for a winning bidder to “seek an alternative location within a one mile radius” if the winner can’t work out a lease for the existing space. Then there’s also the whole single system bid possibility discussed over on Slog earlier today.

We’re not about to try to analyze the business prospects here. Instead, we’ll look at how the bids are progressing for Capitol Hill’s two state liquor operations — Store #42 at Broadway and Harrison and Store #28 across the street from East Precinct at 12th and Pine. Both stores currently show zero bids. By contrast, the math must work out a little better for the 23rd and Union store in the Central District which has already attracted a small amount of bidding activity. Perhaps the lack of competition in the area makes it a more attractive candidate. Maybe it’s the better prospect of working out an alternative location and securing approval from the state. We’ll follow the money to try to sort it all out. The auctions are slated to end on April 20th.

Store #:042
Store Established:2004 
Approx. Cost Base of Current Inventory:$125,206 
Fiscal Year 2011 Gross Sales:$2,966,333 
Approx. Square Footage:3,400 
Typical Staffing Level:4-8 Employees
Typical Hours of Operation:Mon – Thu 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. 
Fri – Sat 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. 
Sunday – Closed 


Store #:028
Store Established:1982 
Approx. Cost Base of Current Inventory:$499,882 
Fiscal Year 2011 Gross Sales:$2,478,649 
Approx. Square Footage:6,440 
Typical Staffing Level:4-8 Employees
Typical Hours of Operation:Mon – Thu 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. 
Fri – Sat 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. 
Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. 
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8 thoughts on “Capitol Hill’s state liquor stores get eBay treatment but nobody bidding — UPDATE: Do I hear $6k?

  1. I don’t think you can separate out the business case from the bidding. With 3 QFCs, 2 Walgreens, Safeway, Potentially Madison Market, Rite Aid, Bartell Drugs, and Trader Joe’s, I don’t see the business case for making a bid.

    Sure people talk about more boutique offerings and specialized customer service, but my guess is the winning bidder would have to be willing to take losses for 18-24 months. I know a lot of our neighbors like to think we have elevated tastes, I bet there is still a heck of a lot of Monarch that is moved through those locations.

  2. As ProstSeattle said, both of these stores would be competing with a lot of other stores. Those other stores have the advantage of people needing to go to them for groceries anyway, so it’s hard to see how you make businesses at these locations pencil out. If I were going to by some alcohol I would just pick it up at any of my 3-5 trips to Safeway on the way home every week, and save myself the time of a separate trip to the liquor store. This is especially true for the Broadway store, where there’s literally a QFC right across the street. The 12th Ave spot at least has the benefit of being a few blocks from the nearest grocery, but I doubt it’s far enough to entice anyone to purchase it.

  3. Just because you would get the license you would not necessarily be able to keep the lease or move it to similar space citing the 10,000 sq ft rule. Not with a ten foot pole!

  4. I believe the 10,000 Sq Ft rule does not apply if you buy one of these out. They get grandfathered in, even if they have to move, they are allowed to move anywhere within a mile.