Thursday, November 3, 2011

Opening a Wine, Beer, and Spirits Shop

I posted a few weeks ago somewhat about my transition from working for the devil to being asked to come on and help open a new shop specializing in unique wine, beers, and spirits. This won't go fully in depth into the whole opening process, more of the planning and "opening" side rather than the monetary/legal side as I am not the owner and I am just on payroll like anyone else. I just want to share the experience of opening up something special.

In the beginning of August this year I quit my old discount liquor store job knowing that in a few short weeks I would be hired on to run a smaller more upscale boutique liquor store. There was something about choosing to leave running 26 beer doors and a walk in to run a shop with 6 beers doors. Without going in specifics it was becoming so miserable with the new boss that I knew I wouldn't ever regret it. 
About mid August we started planning out the layout of the store. The location had previously been a Liquor store but it was old and out dated and the inside needed to be gutted. Everything from the floors to the ceiling was replaced. 

The old Beer/Wine cooler was the only thing that was kept the same, although only having 6 beer doors there is a good sized walk in behind the cooler shelves that allow space for a huge amount of bomber beer which I was very excited about. This is a more upscale area and it caters to more unique finds. I do not have any Busch, Keystone, Colt 45, etc. A few BMC facings and that's about the lowest I go.

Luckily I had been in the business before, well obviously I probably wouldn't have gotten the job if I hadn't, but I already knew the ins, outs, and what have yous. Meg (Wine/Liquor) and myself (Beer/Liquor) set up our office at a table outside the Starbucks and started contacting distributor reps to decide our opening orders. For the next few weeks we talked to reps, looked over item/price lists, and tasted a ton of wine. Some days all we did was taste wine. One of the perks of this industry is that in order to sell the buyer a product you pretty much need to know about what you are buying for the store. Reps come in, you bust out the glasses and get down to business. On the beer side of things it's even better, instead of just a little pour the reps bring in whole bottles and I can take them home and drink the whole thing. That's the thing about beer, you have to be able to swallow the whole taste to get an idea and I am happy to take home anything and try it once!

After thoroughly doing the "research" we got down to business making up our opening orders. We decided what was right and what was wrong to have in the store and adhered to the budget constraints of filling the store but not over filling for the slower first few months of business. The waiting game was a head of us for the racks, registers, and all the other odds and ends to arrive and to get put in there proper places. We ordered custom wine racks and they arrived in pieces, luckily the contractor was still around to help us assemble them as Meg and I could have probably succeeded in doing it but it would have taken us a month rather than 3 days. The next set of pictures shows the three days of assembly. 

We had a few days for a breather and then after the long labor day weekend it was back to business finishing up and trying to get open. We had to wait around for the computer guys to install our components and software. When we knew it was time to set some delivery dates we went ahead and had our reps punch the opening orders and then it was go time. This wasn't my first store opening so I was prepared for the work to come. Luckily in this business most suppliers will come in and help you do the dirty work of getting things on the shelves. Obviously they want to get their products in the most shopped areas on racks and so forth.

As you can see I had my dog Ellie help out in the process.

After getting the store set, obviously with a few set backs and other issues which don't need mentioning as any start up business has it's share of issues we were faced with the most daunting task...It was time to enter all of the new product into the POS system. Yes that's right, we had to enter all 1000+ facings into the computer system so we could ring up and do all those fancy things like sell product. This took us about 3-4 14 hour days but we did it and we were ready to open.

So I must say, this was the short, short, short version of opening up a shop, I guess I should add a disclaimer that there is A LOT more that goes into it and this shouldn't be used as a template. I just wanted to share some of the experience. So then of course I must "plug" the store. Anyone in the Denver area come in and say hi! You can find the address, phone, etc from the links below. Check us out at:

Cherry Hills Wine Shop Website

Cherry Hills Wine Shop Blog



Yelp Listing