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State reveals top bidders for two Auburn liquor stores

The Washington State Liquor Control board announced winning bids Monday for the 167 state-run stores, including four in Kent.  - Courtesy Photo
The Washington State Liquor Control board announced winning bids Monday for the 167 state-run stores, including four in Kent.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

The Washington State Liquor Board announced Monday the winning bidders for the rights to apply for spirits retail liquor licenses at Auburn's two state-run liquor stores, which were among 167 state-run stores auctioned off online this past Friday.

Kulwant S. Khaira of Seattle submitted the winning bid of $251,200 for the Auburn North store at 801 Auburn Way N. in the Fred Meyer complex. The store had more than $4.4 million in gross sales in 2011. Henok Mezengie of Mukilteo submitted the winning bid of $155,100 for the Auburn store at 3930 A St. S.E. The store had more than $4 million in gross sales in 2011.

The sum of individual bids for the 167 stores totaled $30.75 million, with rights awarded to 121 individual bidders, according to a liquor board media release.

Voters approved Initiative 1183 last year to get the state out of the liquor business and privatize sales. Stores must be at least 10,000 square feet to sell liquor under the initiative, but the state-run stores are excluded from that rule.

Initiative 1183 directed the liquor board to auction the state store properties where they are. The state, however, leases rather than owns the properties, creating a unique circumstance for the auction.

Successful bidders earned the exclusive right to apply for a liquor license at the current location within the existing footprint. All state store properties fall below the 10,000-square-foot threshold established by the initiative. Successful bidders must secure a lease with the property landlord. If they can't secure a lease, they may re-sell their right or request an alternative location within a 1-mile radius of the existing location.

The state liquor board ran two simultaneous auctions to achieve "maximum reasonable value," as stated in the initiative. The first was for each individual store. The second was for all store locations available for a single bid, with the state taking the higher of the two. The sum of individual bids exceeded the $4.6 million all-store high bid by a nearly 7 to 1 ratio.

Here is a summary of overall bids statewide:

• Total sum of individual bids - $30.75 million

• High all-store bid - $4.6 million (will not count)

• Registered bidders - 551

• Total number of bids - 14,627

• Single stores to individuals - 93

• Multiple stores to individuals - 28

• Lowest winning bid - $49,600 for Store 186 in Spokane (Division street)

• Highest winning bid - $750,100 for Store 122 in Tacoma (72nd and Pacific)

• Increase in bids on final day - $23.7 million

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