The high bidders for private ownership of Washington state’s liquor stores are in, and the new owner of Bonney Lake Liquor Store No. 60 is Liquor Inc., a subsidiary of Dimension Investments.
Suneet Diwan, a Renton-based real estate attorney and representative member of the investment group, said they feel confident of their $200,100 purchase.
“We saw [the liquor store auction] in the news, and we thought it would be a good opportunity for a new business investment,” Diwan said. “When we saw the opening prices, the initial idea was to buy a bunch of them, but as prices went up we decided to bid for one store.”
The state liquor control board opened parallel auctions of individual state-operated liquor stores and the liquor store system at large on March 3, in accordance with the passage of Initiative 1183. The privatized stores are the exception to the “Costco Rule” dictating that retailers selling spirits be at least 10,000 square feet, or roughly the size of a baseball diamond.
Winning bidders received no material business goods for their money—the state did not sell bidders inventory or even the rights to their retail leases—but rather the business entity itself—the immaterial privilege to do business as a liquor store. That means favored liquor stores won’t necessarily be located where patrons have become accustomed, though it might be said commercial landlords are probably loath to lose a tenant.
Liquor Inc. is currently in negotiations with Liquor Store No. 60’s landlord, as well as wholesale suppliers of spirits, Diwan said.
The corporation funneled its money toward the Bonney Lake store auction on the belief that it would be able to command a superior market share.
“When I was a little younger, I had lots of friends in Bonney Lake who frequented that liquor store and it’s because it’s really the only one in that area,” Diwan said. “In Puyallup, for example, they have three or four liquor stores. So if we had bought a store there, we would be in a more competitive market.”
However, the liquor store will have to contend with competition from state Route 410 grocers that have obtained liquor licenses in the wake of I-1183. But Diwan’s not concerned.
“I think there’s going to be some competition there, but we can offer better customer service,” he said. “Everything our customers would want is right in our store, so I think it’s a lot more convenient than going to a Walmart, for example.”
Though the corporation has the right, as the liquor store’s private owners, to change the store’s name, they will most likely retain the present name of the store, he said.
State-run liquor stores will cease operations entirely by June 1.