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IamMatt

Local Liquor Stores Going Away?

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IamMatt

Since starting my Bourbon Journey recently, I try to stop by local stores when I am out driving to see if they have anything interesting.  Today I was driving home from a job and I planned to stop at 2 liquor stores on the way that had each been there for at least 40 years.  Both were closed down and being used for something else.  Is that a trend in other parts of the country?  

 

I did stop at 4 other stores that had also been around a long time; 3 of them had only me or 1 other customer (mid-day on a Monday); the other had several customers.

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tanstaafl2

Can’t speak for California but I haven’t seen any evidence of stores closing in the Atlanta metro area that I am aware. Lately the store I frequent has been pretty busy during the pandemic, perhaps in part due to a drive thru window that has been in place since well before it started. Ownership turns over periodically but the stores remain open.

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FacePlant

Many states allow BIG retail to open multiple stores, many of which are national companies. When you have the buying power of 50-100-1000+ retail outlets it's easy to see how Mom & Pop get blown out. Many of these large concerns buy at price levels to sell retail for less than a small concern can buy from the distributor at. (And of course it's unlawful to buy from anyone other than those distributors). 

My state TN only allows 2 licences per household. Jeff, correct me if I'm wrong. This keeps the playing field more level and chains like Costco or Grocers can't sell spirits other than wine (newly so in the past few years) and beer. In that manner, only the little guys can fight it out for market share in their local markets. Spirits for the most part is a convenience purchase near work or home.

It is not the perfect system but it does allow retail opportunities for many family business across the state. 

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tanstaafl2

Georgia is also limited to two stores per license.

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IamMatt
Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, FacePlant said:

My state TN only allows 2 licences per household. Jeff, correct me if I'm wrong. This keeps the playing field more level and chains like Costco or Grocers can't sell spirits other than wine (newly so in the past few years) and beer. In that manner, only the little guys can fight it out for market share in their local markets. Spirits for the most part is a convenience purchase near work or home.

It is not the perfect system but it does allow retail opportunities for many family business across the state. 

I was curious about this so I Googled it and found this June 2019 article saying the SCOTUS ruled that the 2-store limit was unconstitutional, so maybe things are going to change there?  I was in Nashville for a couple of days last October but did not really notice the liquor store situation.   https://www.knoxnews.com/story/money/business/2019/06/27/supreme-court-chain-liquor-stores-total-wine-knoxville/1575875001/

 

Also, in CA, Costco sells spirits.  So do grocery stores.

Edited by IamMatt

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FacePlant

No More Than 2 License

TN decided to just put a moratorium on new licenses after the suit. We don't need no SCOTUS messing in our business!!! :) 

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PaulO

Where I live, South of Indianapolis, I have noticed the big grocery chains Kroger, and Meijer expanding their liquor business in a big way.  Each of these places now have the equivalent of a liquor store under their roof.  The only thing the state will not allow them to do is sell cold beer.

Meanwhile, Big Red Liquors has been opening more locations.  Some were previously liquor stores under another name.  Others were another type of business.

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BottledInBond

In MN, the main thing I’ve really noticed is that some local places have closed near where Total Wine locations have opened. In some instances that has been after a while, in others it has been more direct. As one example, a city near me has a limit on the overall number of liquor stores they will give licenses to. Total Wine wanted to come in, so they went and bought a local store, closed it, and then built their normal new warehouse store with that license. Thankfully none of my favorite stores have been bullied out by TW, yet

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IamMatt
3 hours ago, PaulO said:

Where I live, South of Indianapolis, I have noticed the big grocery chains Kroger, and Meijer expanding their liquor business in a big way.  Each of these places now have the equivalent of a liquor store under their roof.  The only thing the state will not allow them to do is sell cold beer.

Meanwhile, Big Red Liquors has been opening more locations.  Some were previously liquor stores under another name.  Others were another type of business.

Just from poking around online, Meijer has some pretty good prices; dunno about their selection.

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PaulO
1 hour ago, IamMatt said:

Just from poking around online, Meijer has some pretty good prices; dunno about their selection.

It is OK.  In the recent past, I have purchased OGD and Rittenhouse there.  Surprisingly, they even get some expensive stuff there too, but it's not too interesting (JD #27, Heaven's Door, Yellowstone black label).

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Flyfish
6 hours ago, BottledInBond said:

Thankfully none of my favorite stores have been bullied out by TW, yet

Just out of pure curiosity, what are the attributes of a "favorite store?" In OH, the state gets to decide what kind of liquor you can buy and what you will pay for it. (There is a minimum but not maximum price.) It is my impression is that Buckeyes are being protected against outrageously low prices  at the majors that would drive Mom and Pop out of business. But, then, none of the booze is owned by Mom and Pop. All stores just hold it on consignment from the state. Which is also why, I think, there are never any "dusties" in OH. Unless the store sells what it has, it is never going to be restocked by the state. Also, there is apparently some arcane formula for deciding which store gets what  allocation.

I have been shopping in the same local store for decades and have never noticed that it matters. Most of my bourbon is purchased in KY and AZ when we travel. Always look forward to both lower prices and far better selection.

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ebo

Ohio is not very good for variety, but it is getting better. There is only one place that I know that has a good selection of pretty much all spirits. The others are okay. I can drive 3 miniuts and get anything I drink on a daily basis. I have to travel 30 minutes to get anything other than the standard fare.

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BottledInBond
44 minutes ago, Flyfish said:

Just out of pure curiosity, what are the attributes of a "favorite store?" In OH, the state gets to decide what kind of liquor you can buy and what you will pay for it. (There is a minimum but not maximum price.) It is my impression is that Buckeyes are being protected against outrageously low prices  at the majors that would drive Mom and Pop out of business. But, then, none of the booze is owned by Mom and Pop. All stores just hold it on consignment from the state. Which is also why, I think, there are never any "dusties" in OH. Unless the store sells what it has, it is never going to be restocked by the state. Also, there is apparently some arcane formula for deciding which store gets what  allocation.

I have been shopping in the same local store for decades and have never noticed that it matters. Most of my bourbon is purchased in KY and AZ when we travel. Always look forward to both lower prices and far better selection.

Yeah, fortunately in MN we have a much different situation. No state minimum pricing, on average pretty good selection and retailers are largely privately owned. The exception to that is some cities here won’t issue liquor licenses to private businesses, and instead only have “municipal” city-owned stores. I don’t live in one of those but am near a few. My favorite stores are local independent stores or parts of smaller local chains, where I have established good relationships with the managers or owners, and they have good selection, do barrel picks, and don’t gouge on prices. Im also past the point of driving extensively to hunt bourbon so my favorite stores are also close to where I live/work. 
 

 

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PhantomLamb
1 hour ago, Flyfish said:

Just out of pure curiosity, what are the attributes of a "favorite store?" In OH, the state gets to decide what kind of liquor you can buy and what you will pay for it. (There is a minimum but not maximum price.) It is my impression is that Buckeyes are being protected against outrageously low prices  at the majors that would drive Mom and Pop out of business. But, then, none of the booze is owned by Mom and Pop. All stores just hold it on consignment from the state. Which is also why, I think, there are never any "dusties" in OH. Unless the store sells what it has, it is never going to be restocked by the state. Also, there is apparently some arcane formula for deciding which store gets what  allocation.

I have been shopping in the same local store for decades and have never noticed that it matters. Most of my bourbon is purchased in KY and AZ when we travel. Always look forward to both lower prices and far better selection.

Amen, same story here in PA.  I've gone thru Toledo several times and it's a desert out there for liquor.

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parksmart

I haven’t noticed any shutting down in my area.  But many of the liquor stores here sell a wide variety of items - beer/malt liquor, candy, chips, sodas, ready to heat foods, etc.  Many of these stores are de facto grocery stores for urban dwellers, so what akin to bodegas that you’ll find in NYC and other urban metros.  

 

That segues to what exactly the OP is classifying as a “liquor store”.  Obviously, what I discuss above doesn’t view Total Wine/BevMo/etc as their competition.  Maybe something more akin to a “bottle shop” is the better descriptor?  That’s what I would classify as a store that offers predominantly liquor, wine and beer, and scant little else.  

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FasterHorses
Posted (edited)

plenty of biz for everyone these days. If they're closing, they don't know how to do it. I went onto a store in FL last month and the guy behind the counter might as well have been a non player character.  Just hire someone who wants to be there and sell at least one or two unique offerings.

Edited by FasterHorses

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Wrangler

Well, here in WA. state, you can now get your spirits at Safeway and Walmart.  You can get them just about anywhere now.  The state got booted out of alcohol business in 2012.  However, they are still taxing the hell out of it!

 

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fishnbowljoe

I’m sure many areas of the country are much the same as where I live. Still, when I step back and take a closer look at things here, I cant’t help but shake my head. 
 

The best places to buy liquor in my area are; (and in no particular order) Costco, Sam’s Club, a couple of Meijer stores, and a couple of grocery stores. Sadly, Schnuck’s, the biggest grocery store chain in our area has what almost could be called a monopoly on the grocery business here. While their liquor departments are fair, their pricing can be all over the place, and is usually a bit high on most products. Their sale prices on many items are what other stores normally charge. :wacko: We have a few independents, but.....<_<.  One guy owns three stores, and may have interests in a couple more. If this sounds kinda weird, it is. From what I’ve heard, I believe the other two stores might be owned and/or managed by relatives. FWIW, these are all “tater” stores. They were gouging at least a little, long before things got so whacko. Now they’re charging crazy prices for some of their products. I posted a week or so ago about a stop at one of these stores. Blanton’s for $169.99. No thanks, c’ya. 

 

We have a number of small  “food and liquor“ stores. Theses are stores with limited alcohol, some basic food necessities, cigarettes, lottery tickets, etc. Stop in, grab what you need, and wham bam thank you mam you’re on your way. There are a couple of independent stores that try and do things right. They have a fair selection, and while their prices might be a little higher, they don’t gouge. And last but not least, what once was my favorite liquor store. It’s a bit of a drive, but I went there often. I also spent a crap ton of money there. Then quite a number of years ago, things there started changing. Their prices started going up. Then, they initiated their version of Whiskey Fest. The late fall fiasco/raffle for Pappy, BTAC, LE’s etc. I went a couple of times early on, but haven’t participated the last three or four years. Between admission and raffle tickets, it cost around $30.00 just for the chance to win a bottle. Then if you did get your ticket drawn, you earned the right to pay tater prices for your bottle.  Another thing that irked me was that over the years, I sent a lot of business their way. After all that, it was extremely rare that I was ever granted a favor. I never asked for anything extremely rare, but once in a while I did ask if they could possibly save me a bottle. You’d have thought that I was asking them to open their vault and let me have my pick. I still stop in there once in a great while when we’re on our way home after a weekend drive. The last couple of times I was there, I walked in, took a look at the shelves, and walked out. I didn’t even say a word to anyone. Again, no thanks.

 

Oh, I almost forgot. I’m aware of only a couple of smaller stores that have actually closed their doors. One of these changed hands a couple of times before closing for good. 

 

So that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I can usually find some things I like at reasonable prices, and a few new things show up occasionally at decent prices. A brand new Binny’s will be opening here next month, and I have a fairly decent bunker. All in all I ain’t got it too bad.;) Retirement awaits! :P

 

Biba! Joe

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Not_That_Fancy

I’m officially rooting for the big man. Had another work trip that took me on the road driving through Texas. I spent a few days driving and hitting multiple hometown stores. 300-500% mark ups in basics like WR107, Blantons as high as $309, ect....

 

I didn’t purchase a single bottle from at least 10 stores I stopped at. 
 

The journey continued as I decided to stop at the large chain stores. Only complaint is the 1 bottle max on stuff like HM10 or ECBP. It wasn’t that you couldn’t buy one of each but only pick one from the case of type spirit.

 

long story short... I’m officially rooting for the mom an pop potato price gouging folks to shut the doors. Take your greedy A**es to the unemployment office! I’d rather have to stand in a line at a box store for a chance at something that let the rich man come through and buy 4 bottles of WR12 for $399 each.

 

my rant is now complete...

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mal00768
1 hour ago, Not_That_Fancy said:

I’m officially rooting for the big man. Had another work trip that took me on the road driving through Texas. I spent a few days driving and hitting multiple hometown stores. 300-500% mark ups in basics like WR107, Blantons as high as $309, ect....

 

I didn’t purchase a single bottle from at least 10 stores I stopped at. 
 

The journey continued as I decided to stop at the large chain stores. Only complaint is the 1 bottle max on stuff like HM10 or ECBP. It wasn’t that you couldn’t buy one of each but only pick one from the case of type spirit.

 

long story short... I’m officially rooting for the mom an pop potato price gouging folks to shut the doors. Take your greedy A**es to the unemployment office! I’d rather have to stand in a line at a box store for a chance at something that let the rich man come through and buy 4 bottles of WR12 for $399 each.

 

my rant is now complete...

The hype will die down eventually. By then however, every restaurant maybe taco bell.

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DeltaAlphaVictorEasy

We have the ABC government system here in North Carolina, so no independent stores. The state has reported record revenues this year so far, citing larger quantity purchases by people 'stocking up' and panic buying (or maybe just more day drinkin' while collecting the .gov check). I think that if we did have mom-and-pops the ones closing would be due to mismanagement (like apathetic employees or price gouging- things that deter customers from returning), not lack of consumer spending. It doesn't appear that there is a dearth of products coming from the distilleries, so no need for a retailer to treat them like gold - just sell at retail, lather-rinse-repeat. In my business, we are having a very hard time finding electronics and car parts, so we do treat what inventory we have a little bit more covetously, but still never charge above retail for anything.

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Marekv8
1 hour ago, DeltaAlphaVictorEasy said:

We have the ABC government system here in North Carolina, so no independent stores. The state has reported record revenues this year so far, citing larger quantity purchases by people 'stocking up' and panic buying (or maybe just more day drinkin' while collecting the .gov check). I think that if we did have mom-and-pops the ones closing would be due to mismanagement (like apathetic employees or price gouging- things that deter customers from returning), not lack of consumer spending. It doesn't appear that there is a dearth of products coming from the distilleries, so no need for a retailer to treat them like gold - just sell at retail, lather-rinse-repeat. In my business, we are having a very hard time finding electronics and car parts, so we do treat what inventory we have a little bit more covetously, but still never charge above retail for anything.

 

I've got to make a road trip up to Raleigh-Durham next week—any idea of how accurate the online ABC inventory system is, in regards to specific bottles at specific ABC locations? There are a few very interesting items worth making a side trip for-- but not if it's only a mirage. Thanks.

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DeltaAlphaVictorEasy
45 minutes ago, Marekv8 said:

 

I've got to make a road trip up to Raleigh-Durham next week—any idea of how accurate the online ABC inventory system is, in regards to specific bottles at specific ABC locations? There are a few very interesting items worth making a side trip for-- but not if it's only a mirage. Thanks.

The Durham county website is pretty accurate- go to durhamabc.com and click the products tab. The Durham Chapel Hill Blvd. store up until recently had an old label Kentucky Spirit pick. Good luck.

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Marekv8
14 minutes ago, DeltaAlphaVictorEasy said:

The Durham county website is pretty accurate- go to durhamabc.com and click the products tab. The Durham Chapel Hill Blvd. store up until recently had an old label Kentucky Spirit pick. Good luck.

 

Thanks-- what I'm looking at (in a store near Charlotte) has been on the shelf for six years (if it exists)-- but worth the gamble.

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