How to Start My Own Liquor Business

by Shanika Chapman - Updated September 26, 2017
Opening a liquor store requires planning.

In every state, liquor stores are required to adhere to strict county, state and federal laws, which dictate how, when and where liquor can be sold. While starting a liquor store may well be a highly fruitful endeavor, you’ll need to ensure that you get the legalese in line prior to opening your doors. While inventory, equipment and staffing are legitimate concerns, the majority of your efforts will be focused on getting your paperwork in order and covering your business.

Research laws in your county to ensure that you are fully aware of any limitations that may affect your liquor store. In addition to zoning issues such as proximity to schools and churches, you’ll be required to adhere to certain operating hours and may be restricted from selling non-alcoholic beverages or tobacco products. As well, verify that your county will even issue a liquor license. If you cannot obtain a license, you will need to consider a location that is already licensed for liquor sales.

Develop a marketing plan. Research local liquor stores and determine how you can offer competitive services, such as by offering a better selection of wines, beer or spirits or a more convenient location. You also may want to look near new neighborhoods or areas that are not well serviced.

When choosing a location, look for safe, high-visibility property with adequate parking, such as in shopping centers and plazas. Ensure each location adheres to established safe distance allotments for schools, churches and other relevant businesses.

To open a liquor store, you must have a license. Learn the liquor license application process for your county/state, applicable fees and any additional requirements. Generally, you must secure commercial space and the business license prior to applying for your liquor license. Some states may allow you to apply prior to signing the lease, as long as you can provide proof that upon approval of the liquor license you will sign the lease.

Consult with an attorney regarding legal issues and find an insurance provider to learn insurance requirements and other liability concerns.

Develop a business plan that details your competitors, how you will compete with them and anticipated expenses for product and equipment, to present to potential financiers.

Learn the distribution method for your state and then find liquor distributors. Some states adhere to a three-tier system in which you must purchase your beverages from a wholesaler, versus contacting the producer directly. Other states allow you to purchase freely from the producer.

Purchase beer coolers, shelving, a merchant account, accounting software, cleaning supplies and a cash wrap. Invest in a security camera system, lights, and safety measures to deter theft and protect your employees.

About the Author

Shanika Chapman has been writing business-related articles since 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Science in social science from the University of Maryland University College. Chapman also served for four years in the Air Force and has run a successful business since 2008.

Photo Credits

  • Liquor store neon sigh image by aideenm from Fotolia.com
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