Small Stores Could Sell Liquor In Rural Washington Areas

By Paige Browning

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Liquor Control Board is proposing a rule to allow small private liquor shops, but only if they are located at least 20 miles from the nearest retailer selling spirits. The draft rule unveiled Wednesday would clarify one part the voter-approved law privatizing liquor sales in Washington.

Initiative 1183 allows hard liquor sales only in retail outlets that are 10,000 square feet or larger. But, there’s an exception for areas with few stores around. Now, the Liquor Control Board wants to clarify that those smaller stores selling liquor have to be at least 20 miles away from a competitor.

That means only about 20 of the 170 or so businesses who have pre-applied for this exception would be accepted. That’s according to Brian Smith from the Washington Liquor Control Board. He says the small number of approved liquor licenses will go to rural areas that may not have any stores that meet the 10,000 square foot rule.

A hearing on the proposal is scheduled for next month and a vote on May 1.

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