KENNEWICK -- The rights to operate the Columbia Center Boulevard store have been sold for the third time for about a fourth of the original winning bid.
Winning bidder George Nyffler said Thursday that he was on the road to owning a liquor store in Kennewick.
"I figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I got lucky," said Nyffler, of Fairbanks.
The store was among six being auctioned off for the third time by the state after the winning bidders failed to pay up. It is part of the state's efforts to get out of the business of selling liquor, as required by Initiative 1183.
Bidders bought the right to operate a store that is less than the 10,000 square feet the initiative allows.
The six stores went for about $600,000, bringing the total the state has received from auctioning off the rights to the stores to more than $30.5 million.
The rights to the Columbia Center Boulevard store were sold to Nyffler for $70,000. The original winning bid during the May live auction was $290,000.
Nyffler said he heard about the auction at the last minute while on vacation in Washington.
"I walked away with the very last store that was up for auction," he said.
Nyffler said running a liquor store will be a new deal for him. He is retired from building pipelines in the Arctic.
The Columbia Center Boulevard liquor store next to Value Village already is closed. The store appears vacant, with only some fixtures pushed into one corner.
So far, the West Richland Liquor Store and the Prosser Liquor Store, both former contract stores, are the only existing Tri-City liquor stores to receive the spirits retail license.
The new owners of the rights to the Pasco stores on Court Street and Road 68, the Richland store on George Washington Way and the Kennewick Avenue store have applied for the new license, but have not received it yet, according to the state.
-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; email@example.com