ELLENSBURG -- Washington is giving people another opportunity to own a liquor store, including one in Kennewick.
The state Liquor Control Board will hold a live auction May 24 in Seattle for the rights to 18 state stores after the top bidders in an online auction failed to pay their posted bids.
Washington is in the process of privatizing its liquor sales after voters approved an initiative kicking the state out of the liquor business.
The state-run liquor system was formed in the 1930s in the aftermath of Prohibition. Voters approved I-1183 last fall, allowing stores larger than 10,000 square feet to sell liquor, though smaller stores could sell liquor if there are no other outlets within a certain area.
The exception is the state's contract and state-run stores.
Bidders already have paid out $25.9 million for the rights to 149 state stores auctioned last month.
In that auction, Parveen Sidhu of San Mateo, Calif., bid for the rights for the Kennewick store on Columbia Center Boulevard for the highest bid in the Tri-Cities at $295,100.
A bid deposit of $10,000 will be required for the remaining 18 stores, the agency announced Wednesday. Those stores are in Seattle, Tacoma, Marysville, Enumclaw, Spokane, Kent, Bellevue, Kenmore, Lakewood, Bellingham, Ocean Shores, Kennewick, Vancouver and North Bend.
More information about the auction is available at http://liq.wa.gov.
Meanwhile, the Washington Supreme Court will hear arguments today about the measure's constitutionality.