BRIER — The tiny corner market has been Sunnie Andrade’s livelihood, and second home, for four decades.
Though small, the store demands a lot of work.
“I’ve had a vacation only one time in 40 years,” said Andrade, 70, owner of Brier Grocery. “I went to Reno for a week.”
Now she can take the vacation of her dreams.
Andrade hit the jackpot July 3 without buying a lottery ticket. After her store sold a winning $12.2 million Lotto ticket, $122,000 was automatically deposited into her bank account.
What’s up with that?
When a ticket buyer wins a Lotto jackpot ticket, the retailer also wins — a 1% bonus commission from Washington’s Lottery.
The July jackpot was one of the biggest in the history of the state’s Lotto game, which was launched in 1982. The selling bonus on the national Mega Millions and Powerball games is a mere $50,000.
Lotto jackpots begin at $1 million and keep growing until all six numbers are matched, roughly 1-in-7-million odds. The pot had been gaining increments since November.
Kristi Weeks, lottery spokeswoman, said the state’s core retailers are small shops.
“We’re so excited when they get to win,” Weeks said. “We could be writing that same check to a large national corporation but it doesn’t mean the same to them. We’re really excited for Brier Grocery.”
Customers say it couldn’t have happened to a nicer family. Andrade’s two adult kids, Charlie and Anna, and her sister, Soon, work part-time at the store.
The winner, who wants to remain anonymous, told lottery officials: “The owners are always friendly to me and my husband.”
The winner told the Andrades about her win the next day, but didn’t come forward until July 20.
Everybody in town knows who she is and nobody’s telling.
That’s Brier for you.
The win drew media attention to the 2 square miles, housing about 6,300 inhabitants. Brier’s big event is the summer SeaScare festival, a pirated small-town parody of Seafair in Seattle.
“We think that it’s great that the little guy … finally wins one,” Charlie Andrade said. “It’s great that people are talking about us and it’s putting our city on the map.”
Wherever Brier is.
It’s that place on the byroads you use to get to Mountlake Terrace to the west, Lynnwood to the north, Bothell to the east, and Lake Forest Park to the south.
The little grayish market at 23607 Brier Road has front posts and a big purple “Play Here” lottery logo sign in the window. The store is set back from the road and easy to miss, unless you are lucky enough to be a local. Under the Brier Grocery banner is “Fast Service.”
Lottery tickets make up between 10% and 20% of the trade at the general store that’s stocked with bread, milk, chips, beer, wine, cigarettes. It’s like a candy store for grown-ups.
“We see the usual suspects come in for tickets,” Charlie said.
On a recent morning about a dozen customers came in over an hour. Charlie greeted most by name, at times reaching for their brand of smokes before they got to the counter.
Talk was still of the lottery win that happened three weeks ago.
“They deserve it,” regular Josu Ayuso said of the proprietors. “Good things happen to good people.”
Sunnie and her husband, Victor, bought the market in 1981. Sunnie, a South Korean native, met Victor when he was in the Army in Seoul and she was working at the base. The second time they met, he told her he wanted to marry her. They lived in Shoreline until buying the store. It came with a house 50 steps away, handy for raising a family and working ridiculously long hours.
Last week, the grocery gave away $2 Powerball tickets for four hours.
It was to commemorate the Lotto win, but also a loss. Victor passed away July 31, 2018. He was 73.
On the anniversary of his death, the free tickets were to share the wealth from the lottery in honor of Victor, described by the family as “a loving husband and father and talkative neighbor.”
The SeaScare 2018 parade was dedicated to him. Community members signed a banner in his memory.
“Victor was a huge part of Brier,” customer Jana Carlson said. “He made everyone feel welcome.”
The store’s claim for “fast service” is true, but not one that people take advantage of.
“People always talk,” Carlson said.
“Especially when my dad worked here,” Charlie added. “He wouldn’t let anybody leave.”
The market’s lottery sales have increased since the July 3 win. Retailers receive a 5% commission on every ticket sold, winner or loser.
Sales statewide go up after wins, lottery spokeswoman Weeks said.
“That’s what it’s all about, it’s the dream. Spend a dollar and dream about, ‘What I would do if I won,’ ” Weeks said.
With the jackpot money, Sunnie can now take a vacation or retire or both.
She’s doing none of the above.
“I put $100,000 in a money market,” she said.
She gave some to family members.
“I gave friends of mine money and said, ‘You go gamble,’ ” she said.
She reported back to work, as usual.