While aspiring liquor store owners will need a variety of supplies to open a successful business, including product, fixtures and electronic equipment, those in Ohio should focus on obtaining an Ohio liquor store permit; the most necessary and difficult aspect of starting a liquor store. The state of Ohio does not simply grant licenses to anyone with minimal qualifications and severely limits the amount of liquor retailers in the state.


The state defines liquor as any beverage, except for beer, that contains more than half a percent of alcohol, according to Section 4301.01 of the Ohio Administration Code (OAC). While liquor stores in Ohio are owned by the state government, they are run by private business owners who remit part of their profits to the Ohio Department of Commerce. This private-public partnership results in the severe restriction of available permits, with a total of only 452 liquor stores in the entire state as of March 2011, according to Reginald Fields of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.


After reviewing a request for a new liquor store in the state, the Ohio Department of Commerce may issue a new liquor store license which covers a geographical region of the state that experiences population growth, according to Section 4301.5.01 of the OAC. Should the state create a new permit, they will advertise its availability in a local newspaper for at least three days in the case of a daily paper or a single day in the case of a weekly circulating newspaper.


The Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) will then collect all the applications submitted by aspiring liquor store owners and evaluate each applicant on a point-based system. Existing businesses that provide a handicapped accessible store, high standards of cleanliness, adequate security and the right amount of storage and display space receive more points, according to Section 4301-5-01 of the OAC. The Department also evaluates the credit history of the business, the length of its operation and the personal history of the store owner. The candidate who scores the highest and pays the licensing fee receives the license.


Aspiring liquor store owners who cannot obtain a permit in their area or do not currently own a retail business, can receive a permit by purchasing an existing liquor store business from an existing retailer. Unfortunately, few liquor store business owners will want to sell off their businesses due to limited licensing and high demand and profit margins from liquor sales. Even if they did want to sell, a potential owner would have to pay millions of dollars for the business and would have to meet a personal review process conducted by the Ohio DOC.