Like East Wenatchee's Liquor Barn, many private liquor store owners who took over state stores after Washington left the business last June say it hasn't been easy. The store's owner, P.J. Malhi (MAH-lee) says he can't get by selling only alcohol. Mahli and his counterparts are selling other products and promoting convenience and customer service to compete with bigger stores and groceries. Mahli's biggest complaint is the high mark up on state liquor tax.
Washington Liquor Store Association President Jas Sangha says the biggest challenge is a 17 percent fee for retailers on hard liquor sales. Liquor distributors can sell directly to restaurants at lower prices.