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Originally published February 25, 2010 at 10:00 PM | Page modified February 26, 2010 at 6:18 PM

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Retail Report

Retirement center gets its own liquor store

The Washington Liquor Control Board decided to move because QFC, its previous landlord, has plans to remodel and expand at University Village.

Seattle Times business reporters

Washington Liquor Control Board, the business

Number of liquor stores: 316, including 161 run by the state and 155 owned by businesses that contract with the state, especially in rural areas.

Sales: $528 million so far this fiscal year, up 1.9 percent.

How much the state gets: The board contributed $655 million to state coffers in fiscal 2008 and 2009.

New stores planned: 15 by mid-2011, the first serious growth in several years.

Other growth plans: More stores are open Sundays and holidays, and last Christmas the board set up temporary shops at four malls. Altogether, growth is projected to add $11 million over the next two years to the net return, which goes to the state and local communities.


The first Merrill Gardens retirement community to share space with college students also became the first to get a state liquor store Friday, and residents' opinions are not split the way you might expect.

As case after case of whiskey, vodka and tequila were hauled into the storefront near University Village this week, students who live in the non-senior part of the complex — called The Corydon, though Merrill owns it — barely turned their heads.

When asked, several said they couldn't care less. Do they drink? "Yes, but not enough to need a store," one tenant called over his shoulder as he ran for the bus.

The story in the senior dining room was different.

"I'm all for liquor stores," said Ann Cahill, a resident since Merrill Gardens at the University opened last April. "They're usually very dignified places, and it's a great convenience to have in the neighborhood."

One resident who initially expressed apathy followed up with a question: "Are they going to have free samples?"

Alas, no.

But the 5,585-square-foot store will be fancier than its previous location near QFC in University Village, with tile instead of linoleum, walnut trim and improved lighting.

The Washington Liquor Control Board decided to move because QFC, its previous landlord, has plans to remodel and expand at University Village.

That store was one of the board's best performers — No. 6 statewide last year, with $9.5 million in sales, according to board spokeswoman Anne Radford. (The highest sales were at 2300 Seventh Ave. in Seattle, which brought in $20.4 million, largely because so many restaurants are assigned to the store.)

The new store at Merrill Gardens is the first on retirement-community property in recent board memory, Radford said.

"We try to stay where there's a grocery store or in a strip mall, so the fact that there's an apartment complex above it is definitely unique," she said.

The 103 apartments above the store make up the non-senior part of a full-block complex along 25th Avenue Northeast just north of University Village. They start at around $1,000 a month and are open to anyone, but attract a large number of students, including graduate and medical students.

Across a courtyard is the retirement part of the complex, with 123 apartments that start at $1,995 a month including meals, activities and other amenities.

It's the first of Merrill Gardens' 56 facilities to include non-seniors, and to have a liquor store, said Billy Pettit, Merrill vice president. Other tenants at the complex include BECU, Shun Japanese Cuisine and — coming soon — Mamma Melina Italian restaurant and Forza Coffee.

The owner of the Urbanity clothing boutique next door to the liquor store is thrilled to have the state as his neighbor.

"College students go to liquor stores, and that's who I'm trying to reach," said Lee Smith, who graduated last year from the University of Idaho.

He also welcomes senior clientele. Several retirees have patronized Urbanity during its two months in business, he said, including an 80-year-old customer who bought an orange hoodie.

— Melissa Allison


Gary Manuel Salon in the Belltown area of Seattle has joined with the American Cancer Society and Swedish Cancer Institute on a program for people undergoing cancer treatment. Called "Beauty over Cancer," it includes free wig advice, head shavings and other cancer-related services.

"We have been doing this quietly for years, but it seemed time to stretch out and help more people," co-founder Gary Howse said in a statement, adding that the new partnership allows it to spread the word quickly. — AM

The Washington Beverage Association opposes a proposed excise tax on bottled water and soda pop that it says "threatens to cost more in lost jobs than it will generate in new revenue." It says the governor's proposed taxes of 1-cent-per-ounce tax on bottled water and 5-cents-per-12-ounces on carbonated beverages would be "devastating to the industry, suppliers, retailers and consumers." — MA

Lice Knowing You, a head-lice removal company, has opened at the Globe Building on Mercer Island. Billed as the first salon of its kind in the Northwest, it promises to remove lice in one- to two-hour treatments costing between $145 and $200. (That price includes two follow-up checks.) Owner Nancy Gordon started the company two years ago, offering in-home visits. A grand opening is March 6 at 9725 S.E. 36th St., Mercer Island. — AM

Mighty-O Donuts in Seattle made Bon Appétit magazine's "hot ten" doughnut spots in the March issue. "Here, the ethereal sugar rings (in flavors like lemon poppy seed, spiced cake with maple glaze, and chocolate iced with peanuts) are all that — and organic to boot," according to the magazine. Others in the top 10 include Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Dynamo Donuts in San Francisco and Randy's Donuts in Los Angeles. — MA

Retail Report appears Fridays. Amy Martinez covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-464-2923 or Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or

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Retail Report is a look at the trends, issues and people who makeup the dynamic and versatile retail sector throughout the Puget Sound region. Every Friday with Melissa Allison and Amy Martinez. Send tips or comments to or



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