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When State Liquor Stores Close, 14 in Shoreline Will Lose Jobs

Passage of I-1183 puts state out of liquor business; store in Shoreline sold $2.8 million in liquor last fiscal year

On June 1, 2012 Patrick Golden, manager of the will be out of a job.

He’s one of more than 900 workers at state-run liquor stores and a Seattle-based distribution center who will be laid off after voters passed I-1183 last Tuesday, which closes all 329 state liquor stores and makes it legal for large private retailers to sell liquor.

Some stores will close before May 31, 2012 but that will be the final day of business for all stores. There’s no plan to have discounted sales, Golden said, instead the excess inventory will be auctioned off.

“We were in the business to help state fund services and keep a controlled hand over spirits and sales to balance convenience with safety, that’s the ultimate goal,” Golden said.

Golden, 26, started as a clerk at the Shoreline South store, which employs four people, in 2008 and became manager of the store within a couple years.  The four employees are Golden, the manager, an assistant manager and two clerks.

Shoreline has two other state-run liquor stores, and store #128 at Ballinger Village, 20154 Ballinger Way N.E. They each employ five people.  They all lease the property where they are located.

The Shoreline South store is open 66 hours a week, Monday through Saturday, and Golden works as much as 12 hours a day.

“I do enjoy my job,” he said. “Part of the enjoyment comes in bringing in unique products for the consumer.”

“I don’t want to be selling cheap booze in the grocery store,” he added.

The store stocks about 2,000 different liquor products, and did $2.8 million in sales in the last fiscal year from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. There’s no doubt to Golden that the amount of sales is why Costco and others want in the business.

He said he’s noticed that some grocery stores like a Safeway in Chino, Calif. only sell three types of Scotch while his store sells 140 different kinds of single malt Scotch.

“It’s going to affect the consumer more than they think,” he said.

Some large specialty wine shops, which have more than 10,000 square-feet of retail space as the new law requires, might start selling liquor, Golden thought, but the majority of the new sales will likely be grocery stores and Costco.

Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, whose company poured $22 million into the campaign to get the state out of the liquor business and get stores like Costco in, said he would offer job interviews to state liquor store employees.

“I’d never turn down an offer if desperation comes in,” Golden said. “It’s not my first priority. My priority is running the store until it closes.”

 A clerk in a state-run liquor store starts at $11.35 per hour and can work their way up to maximum of about $14.50 in three or four years, Golden said.

Golden said it was interesting with all the anti-government sentiment from voters last year that the privatization measures didn’t pass but 1183 did this year with more of a anti-corporate sentiment as seen in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Now that the voters have spoken, Golden is ready to finish out the last six-plus months of his job.

 “You have to go about your business until it’s completed and move on then,” he said.

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