Quinaults mulling opportunities for liquor store

The Quinault Indian Nation is going to try to keep the state-run liquor store in Aberdeen open for business, although none of the details have been worked out.

The Quinaults recently had the winning bid in a public auction to purchase the liquor store license for $95,200.

Following voter-approved Initiative 1183, the store is slated to close for good on May 31, unless the Quinaults decide to keep it open. The public auction officially gives the Quinaults the ability to keep the store open with all of its fixtures in place. They are also given the right to purchase the existing inventory at a discount.

Quinault President Fawn Sharp says that the Quinault Nation Enterprise Board, which is an entity independent of the governmental structure, made the decision to purchase the liquor license at public auction.

Sharp delegated the Enterprise Board the ability to answer business and operational questions related to the liquor license.

Myrna Figg, interim CEO of the Enterprise Board, said in an e-mail that the board is still in the planning stage on what to do with the license.

“We are talking with the building owner, and have asked them to submit a lease proposal for the building,” Figg said on Friday.

Figg said that the board views the liquor license as another business opportunity. The Quinaults operate a casino at Ocean Shores, seafood operations and several stores, including a tobacco store at Hogan’s Corner and a planned tobacco and convenience store on Market Street in Aberdeen.

If the Quinaults were to keep the existing state employees on the job, they would qualify for a rebate on the price they paid for the liquor license. Figg said that decision hasn’t been made yet.

Figg didn’t answer a question as to whether the Quinaults as a sovereign nation could get any kind of tax break on selling hard liquor that would be passed on to the consumer, much the way cigarettes are sold at a cheaper rate.

Market street property

State law would also allow the Quinaults to move the liquor store in a one-mile radius from the current location at 216 W. Heron Street in Aberdeen. The planned tobacco depot and convenience store is located on at 619 E. Market Street in Aberdeen. A Google map search has the store located within 0.6 miles, which would be within the required one-mile radius. The land is on Indian Trust land, which means the Quinaults permit the building on site themselves and only need to contract out to the city of Aberdeen police, fire and sewer access.

Of course, whatever decision they do make, their liquor store wouldn’t be the only one in town.

Rite Aid stores in Aberdeen and Hoquiam have joined Safeway, Walmart and TOP Foods as the stores that have already applied for a license to sell hard liquor.

“We look at having the Liquor License as another business opportunity,” Figg said. “We also realize the our liquor store is not going to be the only game in town,. Before, the state had a monopoly, but now there will be competition from three big stores in Aberdeen.”