Colorado Store Makes Shopping Easy
A 10,000-square-foot store focusing on craft beer, affordable wine and locally made spirits opened in late May in Fort Collins, Colorado. Mulberry Max Beer Wine Spirits caters to locals looking for wide selection and an efficient experience. “When customers come in to a liquor store, they know what they want to buy,” says partner and general manager Chuck Carlson. “We tried to design a store that lets people find exactly what they’re looking for quickly.” Mulberry Max’s 1,000 wine SKUs start at $4.99 a 750-ml. bottle of Canyon Oaks Chardonnay and go up to $199.99 for Dom Pérignon Champagne. The selection includes a large number of wines priced between $10 and $20. The store’s 900 spirits SKUs range from Skol vodka ($6.99 a 750-ml. bottle) to Johnnie Walker Blue Label blended Scotch whisky ($221.99). A special end-cap highlights locally made spirits like Stranahan’s Colorado whiskey ($54.99). Located close to such breweries as New Belgium, Odell and Oskar Blues, Mulberry Max takes special care with its beer offerings and emphasizes Colorado craft brews. The store’s 1,000 beer SKUs feature a wide selection of different styles and brands, from King Cobra malt liquor ($1.49 a 24-ounce can) to The Bruery’s Anniversary Cuivre ($29.99 a 750-ml. bottle). Although Colorado doesn’t permit growler sales, Mulberry Max offers 22-ounce and 750-ml. bottles of limited-edition brews. “There are plenty of beer enthusiasts here in Fort Collins,” Carlson says. “People know beer and like to talk technically about it.” He adds that the store’s staff includes award-winning home brewers and a former professional brewer. “Anybody can sell beverage alcohol,” Carlson explains. “The difference is making the environment welcoming, attractive and easy for people to find what they want. And if they can’t, we’ve got enough people around to help them.” Mulberry Max also sells glassware, accessories and mixers, and the store hosts tastings on Fridays and Saturdays.
Virginia ABC Promotes Local Products
The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is partnering with the Virginia Tourism Corp. this summer to promote wines and spirits made in the state. Stores in Richmond, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, Warrenton and Vienna are giving away trucker hats, branded with the “Virginia Is For Lovers” logo, with every purchase of a 750-ml. bottle of spirits or wine that’s produced in the state. Products only available in smaller sizes are also eligible for the tie-in. Scheduled to run through Labor Day, the promotion has received a strong reception from consumers, and at press time, it was slated to expand to two additional stores in Virginia Beach and Williamsburg. The Virginia ABC stocks 125 locally made wine and spirits SKUs, highlighting them in “Virginia Made” displays throughout its 351 units. Best-selling products include Tim Smith’s Climax moonshine ($34.90 a 750-ml. bottle), Virginia Lightning corn whiskey ($18.80) and Bowman Brothers Bourbon ($29.90). The state is home to 37 distilleries and over 300 wineries.
BeerShop Highlights Chicagoland Brews
A craft beer bottle shop and 10-seat taproom opened this spring in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois. Founded by Bay Area transplant Tony Compaglia, BeerShop focuses on locally made brews from such producers as Arcade Brewery, Lake Effect Brewing Co. and Sketchbook Brewing Co. “I noticed there was a pretty big craft beer scene in Chicago, but that there weren’t a lot of combination bottle shop–taprooms,” Compaglia says. “I saw an opportunity here.” BeerShop stocks a rotating selection of 40 to 60 SKUs in bottles and cans ($3 to $30, package sizes vary). Recent offerings included Begyle Hophazardly IPA ($9 a 22-ounce bottle), Pipeworks Coffee Break Abduction Imperial stout ($11) and Lake Bluff Inspiration pale ale ($10.75 a six-pack of 12-ounce bottles). The venue’s 12 taps turn over frequently to ensure freshness, and Compaglia doesn’t plan to expand beyond a dozen. “The more taps you have, the more overwhelming it can become for customers and the less likely they are to try new beer,” he explains. On-site pours range from $5 to $9, and flights of four 5-ounce pours ($12) are available as well. BeerShop also sells glassware and snacks and hosts in-store tastings and other events.