B-TOWN BIZ: Burien Liquor Store Re-Opens Under New Ownership
by Jack Mayne
Old customers of the Burien state liquor store will hardly know the new place, now open under the ownership of a young couple and you can actually find the lemons or the limes and even the mixers you want right at the same place.
The onetime state liquor store at 15858 1st Ave. S. opened on June 9 after the new owners fixed the floors and spruced the place up, says Mary Hartness, the manager who was also the manager of store when it was state run.
A British Columbia businessman, Gurvinder Singh purchased the Burien store for $340,100. He then sold the store to Raj and Sandy Mann, a young couple originally from Ohio and New York and who now live in Renton, said Hartness.
“Compared with all the grocery stores, we have maintained our selection (of products). We have nearly 1,400 brand codes in here,” Hartness says.
“We are bringing back all of our wine (and) all of our wine deals with extremely competitive pricing. We were the No. 2 store in Washington for wine sales when it was a state-run store and the No. 5 in volume in the state and we want to keep it that way so we are very competitively priced,” Hartness says. “We have maintained our wine discount, six bottles gets you 10 percent off.
“We have a spirit (hard liquor) discount as well. Any five bottles gets 5 percent off.”
The store still has the mini bottles that many habitués of the state stores liked to buy, albeit pricey now because of Washington’s 20.5 percent spirits sales tax and $6.60 per liter tax.
Hartness says the store has a number of 375 milliliter bottles (often referred to as pints) along with the larger bottles – 750 ml and 1.5 liter bottles.
The store has an extensive selection of mixers so the day of buying the liquor in one store and going down the street for soda or specialty drink mixers is gone, she says.
“We like to think we are the one stop store in B-Town,” she says. “We’ve got ice, lemons and limes, wine openers – all the accouterments you would need.
“We have our beer cooler stuffed with some new craft selections and some of the best sellers in Washington, too,” Hartness says.
Many grocery stores have a limited selection of larger bottles of liquor, and not a large selection of the variety of brands that the state stores sold but are sold at the Burien store. Many asked for the top 100 or 200 selling items then chose from that list whatever they could fit in the tight shelf space. Some of the grocery stores have room for from 30 to 80 of the top sellers.
“We have the same Scotch selection we had – some of the really high-end Scotch, even $700 bottles,” Hartness says.
The store is laid out the same as during the state days, she says. “We thought familiarization was important.”
The store hours are longer than the state-run days, she says. The store in open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday, the store is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Sunday the store is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The state stores used to close on many holidays, but the Burien store was open on the 4th and will be open every holiday except Christmas and Thanksgiving from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Hartness said business so far has been steady, but says they have not advertised the store was open while they replaced the cracked tile floors with smooth finished concrete floors that many upscale businesses now use.
“We are the only action in town that has huge selection and we have the service,” she says. “Our motto is selection, value and service.”
Many Burien customers either do not realize the former state store is open for business or they wonder if it is still state but will have to close. The state closed the store on May 22 and the Hartness and her staff reopened it on June 9.