[Grocery chain] QFC is enforcing contracts at some of its locations that prohibit private liquor stores from operating in the same shopping centers, according to real-estate brokers involved in two local deals, one in Issaquah and the other in Kirkland.
The restrictions, which are legal, are causing some people to scramble for new locations after they won rights in an auction to operate one of the state's 167 existing liquor stores.
"Big-box stores funded the initiative for privatization and a free market, but they want to monopolize the situation," said Jeffrey Roh, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon who won the right to sell spirits at three of the state's current locations. "They don't even want to let small businesses compete against them in this free market."
QFC spokesman Ken Banks declined to comment.
Roh does not have leases on any of the three locations he won and is losing hope. His broker tells him QFC is preventing one of the leases, and he suspects the grocery chain is holding up a second.
It's not clear whether other grocers have similar contracts that could exclude competition.