by MARK ST.J. COUHIG
Washington State Liquor Store No. 135 is now back in business under a new name, new ownership and, surprisingly enough, the same management.
Kulbir Singh, a Brazil, Ind., businessman, purchased the store’s license in April. It’s now called Sequim Liquor and Wine LLC.
Singh picked up an additional eight Washington licenses at the same time.
After buying nine stores in one fell swoop, Singh admitted he’d have a tough time getting them all open quickly.
The Sequim store, located near the Super Walmart, reopened Tuesday, June 12.
After purchasing the Sequim license, Singh said he hoped to retain the store’s former employees. He was true to his word; there are some familiar faces, including store manager Sandy Kvam. She said her salary is the same.
Kvam said three of the store’s former five employees are on the payroll.
The inventory is low right now, Kvam said, but building quickly: “We’re getting back to normal.”
The store also will expand its range under Singh’s ownership. Kvam said she’s not quite sure what new items Singh will be adding, but noted the store is awaiting word on a wine license. With that in hand she will begin stocking both wine and beer.
While acknowledging the new competitive marketplace — the store is just one of seven in Sequim now selling liquor — Kvam said she’s also very hopeful for the future of the business, noting they will maintain a wider variety of specialty, hard-to-find liquors.
She said she was surprised when state liquor taxes rose by nearly 30 percent with the passage of the initiative.
In Kvam’s store, there are no unpleasant surprises. All of the marked prices include the state’s portion.
“The prices are exactly what you pay,” she said.
Singh purchased the nine Washington licenses through a state auction, which was held after Initiative 1183 was approved by Washington voters Nov. 8, 2011. The initiative essentially took the state government out of the retail and wholesale liquor business.
Private businesses, including Singh’s, have stepped into the breach.
Singh, who owns several businesses in Indiana, including “a beer and wine store,” paid $63,200 for the Sequim store, which grossed more than $3.5 million in 2011.
Reach Mark Couhig at firstname.lastname@example.org.