Many Kent stores to sell liquor starting Friday

State-controlled liquor sales end Friday, June 1 and many grocery and drug stores will carry spirits in Kent and throughout Washington. - STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter
State-controlled liquor sales end Friday, June 1 and many grocery and drug stores will carry spirits in Kent and throughout Washington.
— image credit: STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

Liquor sales will flow more freely in Kent and throughout the state starting Friday.

The large grocery and drug stores in Kent are all jumping on the chance to sell spirits alongside wine and beer after voters approved Initiative 1183 last year to get the state out of the liquor business and privatize sales.

"We have heard very positive reactions to seeing liquor being stocked on our shelves," said Safeway spokeswoman Sara Osborne in an email.

Safeway already has displays ready to go with a banner draped over the stocked shelves letting customers know they can buy hard liquor starting Friday, June 1.

Safeway plans to carry about 450 varieties of spirits in various sizes and will display the hard liquor bottles next to the wine section.

Private buyers bought the rights to the four state-run liquor stores in Kent and also plan to open Friday. Those stores will face tough competition from the large grocery stores.

"We know shoppers always appreciate convenience when grocery shopping and it’s not convenient to make an extra stop for liquor," Osborne said about competition from the liquor-only stores.

Albertsons, QFC, Top Food and Drug, Fred Meyer, Winco Foods, Bartell, Rite Aid, Target and Walgreens are among the stores in Kent that will sell spirits.

Fred Meyer has run newspaper ads promoting how one-stop shopping gets even better with spirits coming to the store, even with a final tagline of "I'll drink to that!" The company paid for a large wrap ad Thursday around the Seattle Times to promote liquor sales at its stores.

Stores must have at least 10,000 square feet to sell liquor under the new law, but the former state-run stores are excluded from that rule.

Costco stores in Tukwila and Covington also will sell spirits. The Issaquah-based company contributed nearly all of the $22 million spent in the state to get voters to pass Initiative 1183.

The Washington Supreme Court upheld the initiative on Thursday on a 5-4 vote, allowing sales to begin Friday. Opponents of the switch to privatize sales had filed suit in an effort to stop the change.

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