Stateliquor board to close Blaine store

Published on Thu, Dec 21, 2006 by ack Kintner

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State liquor board to close Blaine store

By Jack Kintner

John Redal, acting director of retail sales for the Washington State liquor control board, announced last week that the state-run liquor store in Blaine’s International Center will close next April.

According to Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic, the closure is supposedly because the store itself doesn’t make enough money in its current location and so is being moved to Bellingham, somewhere near the Wal-Mart store on the Guide Meridian.

“But it grosses over $800,000 per year,” Tomsic said, “and I know a lot of Blaine merchants who would be glad to make that much.”

Tomsic responded quickly to Redal’s letter, saying that “the state has control of the sale of hard liquor and determines where the stores are located. Is the only criterion the profitability of the store? I hope not.  It would seem to be that stores should be conveniently located. We are trying very hard to build our retail base in Blaine and the closure of your store is not a positive signal to others.”

Larry Musselwhite, who operates a contract liquor store in Point Roberts that does more business than the state-run store in Blaine, said that the state “wouldn’t leave Blaine without a liquor store. They’ll probably get someone to open up a contract store.”

Tomsic later said that he spoke with Redal and was told that the state can have only a limited number of state-owned stores, and that they have to maximize their income.

“Profits shouldn’t be the only motivation.” Tomsic said, “because they’re providing a service. We’re trying to develop a tourism economy here, and whether you agree with drinking liquor or not, if you’re a tourism community then it’s one of the services visitors to the community look for.”