Business

Two private liquor stores to open in Auburn

Two state liquor stores in Auburn will close their doors this month — only to throw them open soon afterward under private ownership.

The south liquor store at 3930 A St. SE rings up its final sale Saturday, with plans to reopen as the privately-run Auburn Liquor and Wine in the same spot on next Friday, June 1.

As for the state run North Auburn store in the Fred Meyer plaza at 801 Auburn Way N., it ends its state-owned status Wednesday.

The new owner, Kulwant S. Khaira – who won the rights to operate the liquor store with a $251,200 bid in the state's online liquor auction last month – plans to reopen the store in a new location in early June.

Khaira, a businessman who operates a 7-Eleven and liquor store in San Francisco, said Fred Meyer declined to renew his lease at the current location, forcing him to find a new spot within a mile of the old state-run store.

"I will not be at the Fred Meyer spot, but I will be open at 790 Auburn Way N.," Khaira said. "The good thing is that Fred Meyer has agreed to help us remove our equipment, and I want to thank hiim for that."

After May 30, Khaira said, he will move the shelving and other fixtures from the current location to the new place, a 4,853-square-foot space across the street that he'll call Auburn Wine and Liquor.

"I just want to keep it local," he said. "I want to give the same service the people of Auburn were getting, I don't want to disrupt that."

Although the store should be physically ready to open, with all the fixtures in place by June 1, Khaira said he's still waiting for the final OK on his liquor license from the state.

"I'm trying very hard to get it all done," he said. "They (the Washington State Liquor Control Board) said they are working on it, and I've given them all the things that I'm supposed to."

Once open, Khaira said he plans to add a few convenience items to the store's inventory, but keep the focus on liquor and wine.

As for the former state employees at the old store, Khaira said he hopes to hire as many of them as possible.

"We have to look at how the business is going to do with the new location, but I'd like to hire some, if not all, the current employees," he said. "I'm interested in bringing in those who have the customer service experience."

Khaira, who has been in the retail business for eight years, said that he also hopes to retain as much of the store's previous clientele as possible.

"I intend to give great customer service to the people of Auburn," he said.

Khaira welcomes any input from residents of Auburn regarding his store. He can be reached at 415-533-6086 or by e-mail at kulwantsingh68@yahoo.com.

In addition to liquor sales at the two privately owned stores, several other retailers in Auburn will begin selling spirits on June 1, including Safeway, Fred Meyer, Walgreens and Top Food.

Officially, the state of Washington is out of the retail liquor business on June 1.

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