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How to Open a Liquor Store

Thinking about starting a business, but haven’t decided what type of business?

Or have you already decided that a liquor store is the way to go?

Setting up shop isn’t always simple, especially in the tightly-regulated liquor industry. But if you do it right, you’ll definitely be rewarded.

If you’re wondering how to open a liquor store that creates a buzz, follow these steps to make sure you’re the best in the business.

Write a Liquor Store Business Plan

To get started, you need a top-shelf business plan to support your success as you open your new liquor store.

Not sure where to begin? Here’s a common list of items to include in your plan:

  • Executive summary and description
  • Product and service identification
  • Market and competition analysis
  • Company and management structure
  • Financial planning

Figure out your purpose, and then figure out how to make it happen.

First, write a general overview of your business — start with the executive summary. Feature the key points, but remember that this is a highlight reel, so don’t dig too far into the details. (This summary might be easiest to revisit after you complete your plan, when you know everything you need to include.)

Next, create a company description. This is where you do provide a more comprehensive look at your business — the who, what, why, when, and where.

  • Who? Think about who you want to be as a business owner, who you want to employ, and even what to name your business.
  • What? Consider what you plan to have in stock. Do you want to sell straight spirits, or include wine and beer, too?
  • Why? Remember your reason for starting the business. Why do you want to open a liquor business in the first place? What are your business goals?

  • When? Establish a timeline of what your store opening looks like, and then what you think your operating hours will be.

  • Where? Decide where to open up shop — the success of your business depends on location, location, location.

Once you’ve crafted a solid company description, your next step is to dive into the “how.”

Decide what products you’ll stock, and find vendors. Research your target market, so you know what to sell and how to sell to them — and then your competition, so you can make your liquor store better.

Work out your company structure, too. Are you running your package store as a one (or two) person show, or will you employ a larger team of ten or more?

Lastly, you need to figure out the logistics, like financial planning. 

Get Licensed and Insured

Once you’ve completed your business plan, it’s time to move on to the next step — and it’s one of the most important.

Opening and running any kind of business is a complex process, but when your business sells alcohol, you need to navigate more unique requirements — including appropriate permits and licenses.

Like any retail business, you likely need to secure a retail license, sales tax license, city, county, and state licenses — and a liquor license. (Remember to check your specific state regulations regarding liquor licenses, to make sure you’re following the correct guidelines.)

The liquor industry is not only tightly-regulated, it’s high-liability — make sure your bases are covered with high-quality insurance. 

First, you need general liability insurance, which protects you from being held legally responsible for third-party risks, or damage caused as a result of the products you sell. Liquor stores present considerable risk, when you think of the hundreds (or thousands) of bottles of spirits sitting on shelves. Don’t risk a lawsuit over spilled scotch.

And of course, you need liquor liability insurance — this covers damages caused by your customers while under the influence of the products you sell, which is important when you sell intoxicating products.

Running a liquor store is a huge responsibility, and you have to take special care to protect your business and your customers — so make sure to prioritize securing these licenses, permits, and insurance policies.

Maximize Your Marketing Efforts

Now, you’re ready to reach your audience.

Think about where your potential customers get their information. Do they still check the mailbox regularly? Send direct mailers. Are they opening up their inbox? Try an email marketing campaign. Do they scroll through social media? Establish an online presence, and make sure it’s on the right channels for your audience.

No matter how you decide to get the word out, be clear about your brand. What kind of liquor shop are you opening? A corner-store quick stop, or a high-end store with top-shelf tequila? Both have their audience, but it’s important to decide which is yours.

Amp up your messaging to attract the right customers for your unique liquor store.

Pick the Perfect Liquor POS System

Smart business owners choose smart business tools. And if you want your operations to run smoothly, that starts with a quality point of sale (POS) system — and one that’s made for the liquor industry, specifically.

Advanced inventory management is a priority when it comes to running a store with such a high number of items. Designed specifically for liquor store owners, by liquor store owners, Bottle POS has an auto ranking feature which will color code your products and rank them depending on how they’re selling — you’ll know what to stock more of, and what to stock less of. Maybe your customers prefer Scotch whisky over Irish whiskey. (Plus, auto invoicing streamlines the receiving of this inventory.)

This knowledge will ultimately increase your profits, and catering to your customers might get them back in store. Remember to set up a loyalty program, and regularly communicate with your returning customers through the integrated marketing feature — send promotional and reminder text messages directly from your POS system.

And if you’re ready to boost your business even more, BottleZoo is an e-commerce integration that can set your shop up for success online.

Get Ready to Open Your Buzz-Worthy Liquor Store

Congratulations! You’ve written a business plan, secured your licensing, amped up your marketing, and found the best business tools for your new store. Opening a business can be quite the undertaking — but it’s absolutely worth it.

So pop a bottle, and raise a glass to your brand new liquor store. 

And if you’re ready for the best-in-class liquor-specific POS system, schedule a demo with one of our Bottle POS specialists today!