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Plan for one Capitol Hill state liquor store in place — Northwest Liquor & Wine coming soon

Liquor Application, originally uploaded by Lookin4TallGuys.

As grocery stores secure their 1183-won liquor licenses, a wildcard in the future of retail hard spirits on Capitol Hill has been the state operated stores on Broadway and 12th Ave. With the auction of rights to the stores now complete, one of the Capitol Hill shops is likely to be part of the new privatized liquor economy of Washington while another state store location could soon be transitioning to a new line of business.

Hardial Gill spent $500,100 to secure the rights to the 12th and Pine store — the second highest bid in the state. He tells CHS he already had a lease worked out for the space before he placed a bid. Northwest Liquor & Wine is on track to open the first day the law allows — June 1.

“The store has been there for 20 years,” Gill said. “We’re going to bring in more wine, beer and some other good stuff to increase the variety.”

He expects that variety to be key to competing with the likes of QFC and Safeway. “They’re going to carry a third of what we have,” Gill said. He also said he plans to keep most of the 12th and Pine employees and their experience should also help make the store successful and earn him a small rebate from the state. Gill is on the hunt for a wine expert to join the squad, if you’re interested.

Gill, owner of the Bergman Luggage chain, said he has realistic expectations that revenues at the store and two more that he won the rights to in Bremerton and Silverdale won’t match past totals from the days of the state-controlled environment.

The other state store at 400 Broadway E might have a more lucrative future beyond retail spirits. The winning $255,000 bid for that store came from a person named James Hasty. CHS has attempted to contact Hasty to find out more about this plans — and find out if he’s the same James Hasty as the NFL great and Bellevue business man — but we haven’t had our messages returned.

The Broadway property’s owner say it has fielded inquiries from “non-liquor store” tenants about the space. Tim Panos, of Panos Properties which owns the Broadway store location, said he’s asked Hasty for a business plan and is assessing the situation.

The $255,000 doesn’t guarantee Hasty a lease to run his liquor store. The winning bidders in the state auction only acquired the right to sell liquor at the existing store or at a nearby location within a one-mile radius.

A person familiar with Broadway real estate who has looked into the potential viability of an independent liquor shop in the area tells CHS he’s not convinced the store will be as lucrative as it has been in the past with QFC across the street and many local bars and restaurants transitioning to Costco, etc. provided booze. The Broadway store did more than $2.9 million in gross sales in fiscal year 2011, according to the state.

If both state stores continue dealing booze, Capitol Hill could be awash in liquor as the transitioning shops would join these six grocery and drug stores, this co-op, a Trader Joe’s and a few more chains noodling on it, as spirits retailers. Meanwhile, the state store at 23rd and Union could continue on, also. Even with 1183 size restrictions prohibiting stores smaller than 10,000 square feet from retailing liquor, that’s a lot of competition.

On 12th Ave, Gill said he and investors have been in the liquor industry before and his business plan will pencil out. He also said he’s a single malt guy. You can expect an excellent Scotch selection at his store starting in June.

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21 thoughts on “Plan for one Capitol Hill state liquor store in place — Northwest Liquor & Wine coming soon

  1. Prices won’t be better for the first two years because of the tax the distributers have to pay, but after that tax sunsets, there’s a really good chance you’ll see prices drop quickly.

  2. Will these newly privatized staff continue to turn the lights off 15 minutes before closing time? Darn hard to appreciate expanded merchandise when you can’t see the shelves. It’s even worse on evenings when “Dancing with the Stars” airs when the lights start dimming at 20 minutes till closing.

    Were operating hours affecting by last years’ referundum?

  3. Nice to hear someone is going to try to make a go of it independently, but between the fees & taxes ( each of which does not go away, but merely gets reduced a couple points), it will be a tough road to hoe. That , coupled with the prices he’ll have to charge to keep the doors open, most likely will make the prospect a dim one. Lookin for a good selection of single malts?, look to Bev Mo or Total Wines

  4. If the luggage dealer wants to succeed, he can easily compete with the likes of QFC or Safeway if he merely avoids trying to capture the same segment of the market. QFC, Safeway, etc. are going to offer pretty much the same mass produced, industrial swill in the spirits category – Jose Cuervo, Bacardi, Jack Daniels, and 1,000 different kinds of artificially flavored vodka from either Diageo or Pernod Ricard.

    He and others need to look south to the Land of Booze Freedom – California – where smart merchants have found that you compete with Safeway, Trader Joe’s or even BevMo if you focus on curating your store with fine premium craft and artisanal spirits, aiming for a more refined, selective clientele that will search out for fine and obscure spirits – and pay top dollar for it – esp. if combined with an online presence for both pre-ordering for in-store pick-up or for shipping. Just go here to see what I mean:

    There are few neighborhoods in Seattle where something like that could succeed – but Capitol Hill is one of them.

    Aim high – and don’t do the usual Seattle thing of fooling yourself that average is good enough – and something like that can succeed.

  5. Just went to the website and at $98/ per bottle of liquor that I’ve never heard of, no wonder they can afford the rent at 17 3rd Street in downtown San Francisco. That’s some of the most expensive real estate on the planet.

    Good luck trying to push that during a recession.

  6. $98 is expensive for good booze? Just because you can’t afford it doesn’t mean others can’t. I can, and I’m fine with there being avaliability being so close. There’s a market here for that.

    Also, we’ve been out of a recession since 2010. Economists declared this a long, long time ago.

  7. No, selling booze is nothing new at California Trader Joe’s. Maybe it’s not at all stores, but they’ve been doing it for years. They do have some good stuff and even some TJ’s-label cheap stuff (like Vodka), but of course it’s nowhere near as big a selection as a regular liquor store. Last time I compared a few things, when you add the Calif sales tax, it cost about the same or very slightly less than WA state liquor stores.

  8. Yes, a high end store that sells high end bourbon would be fantastic. Bought some yesterday from the Broadway store…maybe 3 quality bourbons to choose from. Pathetic.

    I tried tracking down some pappy van winkle a few years back. Made some phone calls to our friendly state run monopoly at several area liquor stores. The 3rd guy I talked to just laughed at me when I asked if they had any in stock. It will be nice when I can buy a bottle of the good stuff like a big boy!

  9. What I’m most looking forward to is the reign of tyranny of low wage, unskilled, know-nothing employees being over. They had absolutely no interest in the consumer, or providing any kind of customer service. Half of their job under the state monopoly was to discourage people from drinking at all. When I ask a person who works in a retail store about a particular bottle of gin “I don’t know, I haven’t had a drink in 40 years” is NOT an acceptable answer. Hopefully now for a small shelving fee, we can start to order by the x2 or x3 bottle rather than AN ENTIRE CASE, which was absurd.

  10. If people like SeattleStarter think that because they can afford $98 plus shipping and tax for a bottle of booze that they’ve made it to the top, I guess even dry cleaners eventually move on up to the East Side.

    I will agree that the recession has ended as far as what we’re being told and how short-sale properties are being gobbled up but the number of recent 4-year college grads are %50 underemployed or totally unemployed. Student loans aren’t forgivable debts, so… hopefully you’re an old ass geezer trolling for cheap students. Meanwhile back in the real world, most of us from Silicon Valley remember the days when cases of $2500 champagne were the norm for a weeknight and ice carvers and champagne waterfalls were as necessary as toilet paper.

  11. I hate to contradict JimS, but California prices are MUCH cheaper than what you find at the WA state liquor stores. I just got back from California and the regular price at Pavilions (owned by Safeway) for a 1.75 lt. bottle of Gordon’s gin sells for $13.99 with 8.75% sales tax for a total of $15.21. That same bottle of gin sells for $28.95 in Washington state liquor stores. My California friends tell me that they often can buy that gin on sale for $11.99 ($13.04 with tax). Hardly comparable to our current liquor prices.