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Wash. State Nets Millions From Liquor Store Auction

OLYMPIA, Wash. - State officials in Olympia are verifying bids this weekend from a very successful online auction of liquor stores. Private entrepreneurs collectively shelled out well in excess of $13 million for the rights to take over specific state-run liquor stores.

A voter-approved ballot measure is forcing Washington state to privatize the liquor business. Going, going, gone are licenses to operate 167 state-run liquor outlets.

Beginning in June, those existing stores will get competition from major grocery chains and discount superstores. Still, customer Sarah Rhodes can see why someone would bid high for a storefront like the downtown Olympia one she shops.

"I think it would be worth it because of the convenience factor," she says. "It's a lot easier to walk into a liquor store, get your liquor and leave than try to go to a grocery and wait in line or have to buy a Costco membership."

The state liquor control board will announce the winning bids on Monday. But already it's clear from the flurry of last minute bids that Washington's treasury is set to reap a windfall. In some instances, bids exceeded a quarter million dollars just for a single store location.

On the Web:

Washington State Liquor Control Board:

Photo by Tom Banse
Photo by Tom Banse

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.