skip navigation
Support KUOW
Listen to News


question mark


Mini-Mart, Gas Station Owners Win Piece Of Wash. Liquor Business

Austin Jenkins


OLYMPIA, Wash. – Backers of last year’s initiative to privatize liquor sales in Washington said the new law would avoid a raft of new corner booze outlets. But in this week’s auction of state run liquor stores, mini-mart and gas station owners won a piece of the action.

Costco-backed Initiative 1183 said only stores with 10,000 square feet or more of retail space could get a license to sell spirits. The idea was to address concerns that smaller outlets might be more likely to sell to minors.

But the initiative also required the Liquor Control Board to auction off the licenses for Washington’s 167 state-run stores. I did a random sample of this week’s winning bidders and found that several are in the gas station or convenience store business.

Take Charnpreet Upple. He's in his early twenties. His dad runs 7-Elevens in Bakersfield, California. Upple will take over a state store in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. He’s already got a vision for how to remake it.

“I actually plan to include beer and wine, grocery items as well and cigarettes and that sort of thing so it would be a typical convenience store,” Upple says.

Washington’s Liquor Control Board says turning an austere state liquor store into a full service mini-mart is perfectly legal under the new liquor privatization law.

On the Web:

Washington state liquor store auction:

Full text of Initiative 1138:

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network