Owner of MLT’s only liquor store gearing up for competition on June 1

Leonard Daniel, left, helps a customer.

Story and photos by Doug Petrowski

The State of Washington has finished auctioning off its 167 state-run liquor stores; some are closing, the rest will have new owners. And large grocery, discount and warehouse stores are preparing to stock shelves with liquor and spirits for sale. So what changes are coming to Mountlake Terrace Liquor and Wine on 44th Ave. W.?

Not many, says the owner of the only store in town where you can currently purchase a bottle of bourbon, whiskey, vodka or other hard liquor.

Leonard Daniel, and his wife Lori have owned and operated the state-contracted liquor store at 22402-44th Ave. W. since June 2010. They plan to “stick to it,” said Daniel, even after their exclusive outlet for liquor sales in Mountlake Terrace gets some competition starting June 1.

Mountlake Terrace Liquor and Wine is one of 162 privately-owned liquor stores in the state; these stores will be allowed to continue to operate when new laws and regulations concerning liquor and alcohol distribution and sales go into effect June 1. The changes are a result of Initiative 1183, which was approved by state voters last November.

In Mountlake Terrace, the number of stores selling liquor will likely go from one (Daniels’ store) to four — Rogers’ Market on 56th Avenue West and Albertsons at 44th Avenue West and 228th Street Southwest have already applied for their liquor licenses and started remodeling to accommodate stock; QFC on 44th Avenue West is expected to follow.

Concerning the coming competition for liquor dollars, Daniel claims he’s not worried. “My competitive advantage is in selection, with 1,300 items in our store,” Daniel said. He speculates the big stores will likely only have dozens of bottles in stock at any one time.

With 1,300 items in stock, Daniel is proud of the store's liquor selection.

“I also have knowledge of the products,” he added. “If you walk into Albertsons and ask how to make a mojito, they might say, ‘There’s the rum aisle; good luck.’”

There is one thing that will change at Mountlake Terrace Liquor and Wine come June 1: The prices will go up. Daniel explained that the state will start collecting a 17-percent fee on liquor sales on top of the already existing sales taxes. The new private liquor distributors (the state had been the sole distributor in the past — now distribution will be privatized) will also be hit with fees from the state. The bottom line is higher prices to the consumer. “I have to raise prices to cover my costs,” Daniel said.

Daniel will continue to be supplied with liquor through the state Liquor Control Board through mid-May. After June 1, it will come exclusively through private distributors.

The Daniels seem to be the perfect pair to take on the challenges of new rules in the liquor business. Before opening Mountlake Terrace Liquor and Wine, Leonard was already in the field of sales, and Lori had worked for 27 years at the Liquor Control Board.

During a recent late afternoon rush at the store, Daniel interacted with customers effortlessly, calling many of them by name. “My customers seem to be very loyal,” he said. “I have customers who drive by other liquor stores to get to ours.” It’s this loyalty that Daniel is counting on to keep the store going despite all the changes coming in the field.

Mountlake Terrace Liquor and Wine is open seven days a week.

    1. Hi Steve: A spokesperson from the Albertsons at 44th and 212th told me they have their liquor license and are preparing to begin selling on June 1. The person I talked to at QFC at 44th and 228th wasn’t sure where they were in the process of selling liquor, but expects the store will be selling it, if not on June 1, then sometime soon afterwards. Doug Petrowski

  1. Prices are going up?! Ha ha ha, then he won’t be in business for long. I’ve read the projections as well as the internal sales forecasts from a major retailer; liquor prices in this state will be MUCH cheaper for the consumer everywhere else than they have been at his store. If his prices are going up it’s because he wants to make huge profits. The independent distributor stock published prices made available to retailers are far below the state monopoly prices, even figuring on 17% new state tax.

    Go elsewhere, liquor-lovers…and run!

    1. Jenn, You sound like you know what you are talking about but, you don’t…You need to do your research….My other half works for one of the companies that these major retailers are going to have to buy their alcohol from.. They have to go up…And you are one of those people that didn’t do your homework when you voted Yes on I-1183..Because it stated from Costco about a 17% plus a 10% tax to cover the taxes that the state would have put into the general fund.I would love to be a fly on the wall when you buy your first bottle of alcohol….These people are not going to raise their prices to make more money…they are going to have to pay more for their products……I know that for a fact….

    2. If you listen to any of the news programs at all you would have heard of the price hikes. Some of the hikes are coming to have to pay the distributors. They have to pay larger tax % to pay now as well. People at the WSLCB expect the prices to become more competitveeventually as now local independant distereries can now become more competitive. May take some time for prices to drop though.

  2. Hey Jenn guess what ? drinks at the local watering hole are going up prices are going up everywhere what rock are you living under

  3. If it wasn’t for Leonard and Lori I would be going somewhere else. The are the heart and soul of the store. They are great at greeting everyone that walks in and they are super knowledgeable about what they carry. I honestly don’t mind paying a little more because I get treated like a VALUED customer EVERY TIME I walk in.
    Next time, try asking a super market for a liquor suggestion … forget it because they don’t care.
    At this store THEY DO.

    1. Kevin, You are very right….These guys are great….Lori has been in the business for years and she knows the products that is in her store and can tell you anything you need to know from what wine to serve at a function to the best rums to put in your Mai Tai….You are not going to get this kind of service at a Big Retailer….I have walked into that store and everyone that walks thru the doors is like Hi Lori or Leonard how are you…And most cases they know them by first name….And is always eager to help….

  4. Jenn, One more thing you are wrong about..You stated that prices have been cheaper everywhere else than they have been at his store. Not possible. The state sets the price on the bottle and it is the same no matter what store you buy it in, whether MLT or Spokane. Where are you getting your information? Do your homework before you start bad mouthing good people!

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