Where will you get booze when state stores close? Not many sellers in the CD lined up yet

The heart of the CD is looking like it might be a bit dry come June 1, the first day that retailers not owned by the state can sell liquor. The Red Apple at 23rd and Jackson and the Walgreens across the street are the only stores in the heart of the neighborhood that have applied for a license as of March 1.

I-1183, which voters passed in November, requires retailers to be at least 10,000 square feet and includes a formidable hurdle to any entity that wants to apply for an exception. Where neighborhoods like Capitol Hill have lots of large grocery stores (and, therefore, lots of license applications), many CD beer and wine retailers are smaller.

Grocery Outlet at MLK and Union has not yet decided whether to sell liquor, but they are not pursuing it at this time according to a store manager.

See below for city-wide interactive map of liquor applications.

So that means, unless more applications come in, 23rd and Jackson will be the only place to buy booze south of Madison, west of 12th and north of the Mount Baker QFC on Rainier. The Safeway on Madison will sell liquor, and Central Co-op’s Madison Market has applied for a permit, though Capitol Hill Seattle says they have not yet decided whether they will sell or not. Viet-Wah Supermarket at 10th and Jackson has also applied for a license.

The Central District voted heavily against I-1183 in November, as did most of Seattle’s most densely-populated neighborhoods:

Light red means “No.” Dark red means “No” by 60% or more.

CHS also reports that craft distilleries, like 14th and Union’s Oola Distillery, can now sell their locally-made booze directly to bars. So you may see their vodka and gin on bar shelves around the neighborhood.

Here’s a city-wide map of licenses as of March 1, via CHS.

View Seattle Spirits Retailers in a full screen map

22 thoughts on “Where will you get booze when state stores close? Not many sellers in the CD lined up yet

  1. Are we sure that the state store at 23rd and Union is going to close? That is, I know it stops being run by the state, but aren’t they grandfathered in to be able to continue to sell liquor?

    An interview with the people who run that store might be a good article. :-)

  2. Good idea. I need to do some shopping, anyway…

    There is no new application but maybe they don’t need one. I’ll look into it.

  3. I had that same thought – this seems like an improvement to me. Am I missing something?

  4. I was trying to comment on the CD’s lack on liquor stores compared to neighboring areas. But yeah, the headline’s a bit misleading. I’ll fix it.

  5. I don’t remember the details, but that store could be privatized in some way.

  6. I will be frequenting Oola and the up and coming distillaries in the state. Probably will end up on a quarterly subscription like I am for a few wineries. And then will need to find out who carries good rye and some other interesting stuff. What. Your going to say I should get the half gallon of Gordon’s? No.

  7. We may have to get a moonshine co-op going on. If things really get tough we can ferment chesnuts, blackberries, all the rice that people seem to put out for the rats, and that stuff that grows between our toes. Mmmm.

  8. I”m pretty sure the initiative had a grandfathering clause that lets every existing state-run liquor store continue to sell liquor after being privatized, without satisfying the minimum sq ft requirements.

  9. Grocery Outlet has a big enough trouble with shoplifters…I sure hope they don’t add liquor holdups to that too.

  10. My understanding from the Liquor Board is that a private entity could only negotiate a lease for the building that houses a current liquor store, (they are not owned by the state) but will not be “grandfathered in” with a license to sell liquor. The lease would not include the left-over stock of liquor, which belongs to the state. The Liquor Board is working to develop the regulatory scheme for this new plan, if it in fact proceeds as designed by the promoters of the bill. There may be a designation for an “under-served area” where there are no 10,000 square foot stores within a yet to be identified proximity. (According the the LCB, this bill was written by Costco, and did not include many guidelines and parameters.)
    Once the undetermined distance is established, and these ‘under-served areas’ become eligible, a smaller establishment in the under-served area could possibly apply for the license, but as indicated by another commenter here, the process will likely be long and cumbersome.
    Hope this helps…
    Stephanie Tschida

  11. I’m pretty sure nobody was going to tell you to buy the Gordon’s.
    I’m pretty sure nobody cares what you drink.

  12. if it broke the rules for how they are supposed to work, it could all get thrown out.

  13. If the basis of the challenge is what I hear – the initiative will stand. The challenge is that we were all dooped by the inclusion of public safety funding in the bill. A foolish argument since such funding is sensably associated with alcohol consumption. Most of us didn’t know or care about the funding, and those that did smartly faovorred it. Nobody was swayed to vote because they were desperate for services or thought that was what the bill was about. The challenge is a stupid joke.

  14. Yup. Just what I thought. As for the local distillers – I will be buying from them. But if they need the state to prop up their business I’ll consider Scotch.

  15. It will be kind of disappointing not to be able to trot down to 23rd & Union, but thankfully we’ve already taken a liking to OOLA and have been supporting them as best we can since they opened. Lucky for me they make gin and vodka, my two favorites. But no rum. I will miss the friendly staff at the state liquor store. Yet another empty storefront at the corner of 23rd & Union.

  16. I don’t expect Walgreens, Red Apple or Safeway to stock the variety that the state store does now.