Two Bellingham liquor stores will be shut down May 22, as state officials try to deal with an increasing number of store employees statewide leaving for new jobs before the state turns over liquor sales to private retailers beginning in June.
All total, the Washington State Liquor Control Board will close 11 state-run stores, including Store #123 at 101 Stuart Road and Store #130 at 1022 Lakeway Drive, both in Bellingham.
One additional store on Bainbridge Island will operate under reduced hours.
“We needed to make this move to mitigate the effects of employee attrition,” Chris Liu, the liquor board’s retail director, said in a May 17 press release. “By closing these stores we can continue to minimize disruptions in our service areas. Staffing levels were always going to be an issue as we drew nearer to June 1; it’s not unexpected.”
In making the decision to close the stores, officials said they considered the proximity of other stores, as well as those other stores’ capabilities to meet the increased customer base.
Bellingham will have two liquor stores left after the closures, one on Barkley Boulevard and one on Old Fairhaven Parkway.
The licensing rights to both the Stuart Road store and the one on Lakeway Drive were bought during a statewide online auction April 20.
The buyers of the licenses have exclusive rights to sell liquor within the current stores’ footprints.
Closing the 11 locations will free up approximately 55-60 employees to fill gaps at other stores, according to the board.
“Again, the issue is how to best re-appropriate staff while at the same time maintaining service to our valued customers; it’s a delicate balancing act,” Liu said. “In the end we feel this action is the best way to achieve that balance.”
List of statewide store closures
012 Wenatchee 907 N. Wenatchee Ave.
014 Port Angeles 1331 E. Front St.
046 Seattle 2300 7th Ave. S
118 Rainier Beach (Seattle) 9258 Rainier Ave. S
123 Bellingham North 101 Stuart Road
126 Bremerton 1550 N.E. Riddell Road, Suite Q
130 Bellingham Lakeway 1022 Lakeway Drive
152 Burlington 914 Burlington Blvd.
157 Burien 15858 1st Ave. S, #A101
181 Spokane 3017 S. Grand Blvd.
186 Spokane/Wellesley 2401 W. Wellesley Ave.
Store #095 at 363 Tormey Lane NW in Bainbridge Island will operate at reduced hours