Always read the fine print. It's usually important. By the sound of it, some winners of the state's recent liquor store operating rights auction are finding this out the hard way, as QFC is utilizing contracts at some of its locations that bar private liquor stores from operating in the same shopping centers.
It's obviously worth noting that those who played and won the state's liquor-store auction received the rights to own and operate the stores, but not a lease or the guarantee of a liquor license - allowing stores like QFC to step in and flex their muscles.
Not surprisingly, this development has caused some liquor-store auction winners to worry about their investment.
As the Times reports:
"Big-box stores funded the initiative for privatization and a free market, but they want to monopolize the situation," said Jeffrey Roh, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon who won the right to sell spirits at three of the state's current locations. "They don't even want to let small businesses compete against them in this free market."
QFC spokesman Ken Banks declined to comment.
Roh does not have leases on any of the three locations he won and is losing hope. His broker tells him QFC is preventing one of the leases, and he suspects the grocery chain is holding up a second.
It's also worth noting that QFC is likely not alone in its attempts to maximize profits from liquor and quash competition as much as possible.
From the Times:
"It will vary lease by lease," said Scott Osborne, a real-estate transaction attorney at Summit Law Group in Seattle, "but it wouldn't surprise me if most grocery stores had exclusives that prevent new liquor stores from locating there."
At the very least, this latest development in the road to privatized hooch selling presents one more thing to think about for anyone considering jumping into the state's forthcoming in-person auction of its final 18 liquor stores - scheduled for this Thursday.
Previously on Daily Weekly: Liquor Store Auction Part Deux: Store That Fetched Highest Bid Back on the Block
Previously on Daily Weekly: Seven Ingenious Ways to Revolutionize the Way We Buy Booze at Liquor Stores