If you want to open your own liquor store, you may be worried about competition from nearby chain convenience stores with large beer refrigerators or from large liquor warehouses. Large chain stores have more resources than small businesses like yours. However, you have a strength that larger businesses do not have. You know your community, and you can open a store that’s unique to the neighborhood and your tastes. Remember to consider these actions when you start a liquor store.
Decide What Makes Your Store Unique
To make a profit in the current market, you must set yourself apart from other stores. You need to have something unique for customers to remember you. Think about your talents and what you can offer your customers. For example, if you are knowledgeable about wines and spirits, you can focus on providing an extra level of service to your customers. Engage your customers in discussions about the history and unique tastes of your more eclectic liquors, and provide suggestions on what liquors work best for cocktails.
Determine Your Spending Plan
Liquor businesses require startup capital to open, and the amount you need depends on many factors. Remember to include the following costs in your budget:
- Inventory: Your initial inventory may cost more than you expect if you want to start with a fully-stocked store because of alcohol’s high prices.
- Lease: If you rent your store space, you need to pay your landlord and utility companies every month.
- Staff wages: Consider how big of a team you’ll need to manage your business and account for everyone’s wages in your budget.
Once you establish a budget, you can search for an investment or take out a business loan.
Get Licenses From Your City, County and State
The United States has liquor laws that change by area. People often do not realize how many licenses they need to run a liquor store. You must research your city, county and state liquor rules and get the necessary licenses. Remember to look up rules for business hours too. Other legal considerations for starting a liquor store business include:
- Liquor license quotas: Does your state limit the number of liquor licenses issued at one time? Some states and municipalities have a maximum number of licenses to issue based on an area’s population.
- Classes of liquor licenses: Do you need a specific type of liquor license to own a small liquor business? In some states, you need a retail liquor license, not just a general liquor license.
- Application requirements: What documents and information do you need to provide when you apply for a liquor license? Your state’s application guidelines determine what to include.
- Fees and overall costs: How much does it cost to have the appropriate liquor licenses for your area? Fees vary by region, and you may have to apply for a license at multiple levels of government.
- Defending your license application: Will you need to defend your license proposal? Your community may have the option to contest your application, requiring you to defend it.
Establishing a liquor store involves many legal considerations, but taking these steps ensures you have a reputable business. When in doubt, you can hire a lawyer to help you understand what you need to do.
Find a Good Location
When you open a store, you can buy an existing business from someone else or you can build a new business from raw space. Look for people selling their liquor stores near you before deciding to open a new store from scratch. Some owners who want to sell their stores have extra inventory that they will sell for low prices. If you decide to build a new store or adapt your store from a different type of business, read your city’s laws. Some places have laws that keep liquor stores away from schools and churches.
Keep Track of Your Inventory
Liquor has a high cost, so you need to be careful when you stock your inventory. Try to focus on getting items that you sell often. You can buy these items in bulk to save money and make a higher profit. Customers like full shelves, so you want to buy as much stock as you can safely afford. If you have a smaller budget, arrange your shelves so they don’t look empty. In order to avoid running out of top-selling products, make sure to use a Point of Sale system with inventory management software.
Want to give your liquor store a unique flair? You can try selling products that complement your alcohol, such as:
- Glassware: Special glasses for alcohol enhance the drinking experience, and selling them saves your customers a stop at another store.
- Drink accessories: Preparing wine and cocktails requires accessories such as shakers and aerators you can sell near relevant products.
- Mixers: Drink mixers provide a convenient way for your customers to make their favorite cocktails.
- Food and snacks: Many alcoholic drinks pair well with gourmet food and snacks such as cheese, crackers, nuts or pretzels.
- Homebrewing kits: Let your customers brew their own alcohol with a complete kit.
Curating your inventory to include the alcohol and accessories your community wants helps you market your store to your target audience.
Advertise Your Store
Before you advertise your liquor business, you must research whether the law will let you. Some areas do not allow you to advertise liquor stores. If you can advertise, place an advertisement in the newspaper or on radio or television. You can also create a social media page for your store and ask customers to follow it. Try having events like classes or taste testings to bring in customers too.
Get the Equipment You Need
Buying a point of sale (POS) system will help you manage your store more effectively. The POS+ from National Retail Solutions works like the technology that big stores have, but it has a price that small businesses can afford. You can use the POS+ Point of Sale system to:
- Check customers out quickly: Speed up checkout lines with lightning-fast scanning technology.
- Count your inventory: Monitor the number of items in your inventory and get alerts when certain products get low.
- Manage your cashiers: Give each of your employees an account so you can track sales for their shifts.
- Review your sales numbers: Gain critical insights on your overall profits and sales trends.
- Remember to check for ID: Receive a reminder to ask for a 21+ license whenever you ring up an alcohol product.