Online auction of Wash. liquor stores ends Friday

Associated Press

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Washington state will conclude an online public auction of its state-run liquor stores on Friday.

Bids range from $3,050 for a store in Belfair to more than $215,000 for a store in Seattle. A $3.5 million bid also has been made for all stores.

Washington officials say state stores carry more than 1,400 products and pose a great opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to serve a niche market. Successful bidders win the right to operate a store at its current location, but they still must negotiate a lease, apply and qualify for a retail liquor license and stock their stores.

Washington has tightly controlled the booze industry since the end of Prohibition, but voters approved an initiative last year kicking the state out of the business. Privatization takes effect June 1.