What do you look for when you buy alcohol?

One of my stores started carrying beer and wine, and to be honest I am pretty disappointed by the results.

Alcohol came in at 2.8% of total sales

Right between Health & Beauty at 2.9% and Hardware at 2.5%

We carry over a dozen varieties of beer and dozen varieties of wine. Our pricing is actually a bit less than our local competitors. I just can’t wrap my head around the poor sales.

Any ideas?

does this fine establishment have the potent potable I wish to consume?

that’s about all I look for.

Have you advertised?

Where are you located and is your area a walking area or a driving area? I live in a highly walkable area of Chicago and I usually buy beer at the two places near my apartment. If I’m wanting hard liquor, I’ll usually order delivery, but that’s a $50 order at least.

Saving a dollar or so to walk a few extra blocks isn’t worth it for me, it is not because I’m a bum, I try to walk 20,000 steps a day or so. But, hauling heavy alcohol has no appeal to me. If I was driving in a suburb, it would be different. An extra 5 minutes to save a few dollars is worth it.

That’s what I assumed, but I stock all of the basics. I’m sure I’m missing sales of some specialty beers.

The thing that gets me is, hardware is in at 2.5%, and the average price per item is MAYBE 50 cents (lots of small pieces, nuts/bolts) and the average sale of a alcohol product is $10.

So hardware is outselling beer 20:1 and we are a grocery store!

What kind of store is this?

Honestly, nearly all of my alcohol sales are at the grocery store when we’re grocery shopping. Even if we just run out for more beer or rum or something during a party, we go to the grocery store (regional chain). It’s the closest place to our house.

That is weird. Back when we lived in Illinois, a small town nearby voted to stop being dry. The mom 'n pop grocery started to sell beer and wine (no spirits) and within three months could afford all new coolers.

We tend to shop for cheap wine, expensive beer, and a few specific liquors that we like (Tanqueray, Evan Williams, Famous Grouse) plus two Christmas bottles of single-malt scotch. I would guess there would be a big market for cheap beer, sweet wines, and cheap rum, vodka, and tequila too, but it’s not like I’ve done consumer research.

uh, where is this or what store is this? I’m not familiar with the concept of grocery stores selling nuts and bolts.

You posted while I was typing. I would say variety is an important part of what I look for. Even our small local co-op carries 50 different types of beer. When we get over there (it is downtown, we are in a suburb) we are always looking for something new and different.

This location is in a small rural location. I am the only store (besides a gas station) within 20 miles.

I have the space so I wanted to be a rural Walmart of sorts. We have a full service deli, produce, sporting goods, clothing, toys, and even a section to buy hardware.

That being said, our main focus is groceries.

I once ran the beer department for a small mom and pop grocery. Quickly I found that the demographics of our neighborhood drove our beer sales. Since we were the neighborhood grocery for an area populated by professionals and university staff our market was more upscale. And since this was Wisconsin certain brands sold better.

When I was on vacation the store owner put in a buy for 100 cases worth of 12 pack cans of Budweiser since he got a promotional price. Six months later the distributor picked up 98 cases of those Bud 12 packs that were now past their sell by date. Lesson learned.

So I stocked a variety of mid range and better brews primarily in six packs. A lot of our customers walked to the store and it was easier to walk home carrying a six pack than a 12 pack. We rarely stocked cases.
And I stocked Miller products since Bud didn’t sell.

Coordinate buys to at least meet minimum order requirement for a promotional price from the distributor. For some brands we could afford the space and cash flow to place a larger order (e.g. 300 cases of Berghoff) for a higher tier discount. For some SKUs (Bass Ale) a mere 3 cases would hit the lowest tier of promotional pricing from the distributor.

I made sure to have some cooler space for those featured beers since our customers were often shopping after work for what they were making for dinner. They wanted the beer cold to go.

Finally, I coordinated sales displays and featured items based on what paired well with featured items from the butcher case. Think of it a bit like pairing wine… more robust ales to match with a red meat feature, or a lighter pilsner to match with chicken or fish. And so on. Our store was known for an excellent butcher counter so this was an important feature for our success. Might or might not work for the OP.

I would ask some of the regulars what they would like to see you carry; I know some similar stores who have done pretty much that for lots of different things from bait and ammo to pasta and cheese. The brands and types of booze I want may not be much help to you - YMMV as we say here. Back where I grew up its a lot of Old Crow and Wild Turkey still and for beers its mostly Lion/Stegs and Sheaffers <sic?> but you got 40 miles away and it will be totally different.

Somehow the idea of seeing alcoholic beverages other than cheap beer at a place that carries hardware seems about as odd as seeing guns and ammo at a health food store. That’s what liquor stores are for.

This is Wisconsin, every store is a liquor store :slight_smile:

How recently did you start carrying alcohol? My first thought is that the change is recent enough that customers may not have changed buying habits yet. Have you price matched with other stores? How did you let customers know you were adding alcohol? Kopek’s suggestion about talking with the regulars about what they’d like to see you carry is a solid one. Another suggestion would be to offer tastings if that is something your distributors can help out with, or if you have any local brewers or distillers.

Due to Wisconsin’s Minimum Markup Law there is only so much you can do as far as price matching is concerned. Just get the best price you can from your distributor. And your distributor will likely be happy to provide supporting promotional materials and other signage to make a display.

I drive past 15 or so places I could buy beer from to get to my go to beerporium, http://houseof1000beers.com/

Your dozen beers (and how many of those are InBev crap?) wouldn’t catch my eye.

The first question I’d have is how long have you been selling alcohol?

It takes time for a new product line to ramp up. Sometimes up to a year.

Remember, humans don’t change habits quickly or joyfully. If people are accustomed to getting beer and wine from some other store they’re going to keep buying there. Slowly some will switch over out of curiousity, price sensitivity, whatever. Over time that can build new habits and spending patterns as word of mouth spreads.

But it doesn’t happen overnight, or even over months.

If something about your store is a pain in the ass- say a slow checkout, for example, people are going to buy their alcohol elsewhere, even if your price is lower. How would you rate the general shopping experience at your store?
Also, have you advertised or made it known that you have alcohol available?
Lastly, “over a dozen varieties” of beer and wine is not a wide variety. The gas station in town probably has that variety, without wine.
Best of luck to you. Advertise. Make shopping easy.

1> You recently added alcohol to your sales mix.
2> Your only nearby competitor for that product is a gas station that most likely has been doing it for sometime.
3> You are a rural grocery store with no other grocery store for 15-20 miles in any direction (?)

^^ these are what I have gleamed so far. The following is from someone living in rural Wisconsin.
It will take time for word of mouth to spread locally for people that don’t regularly stop by to even know you you have alcohol. Those that want a refill without driving 10-15 miles already know about the gas station. Your store is most likely not a weekly shopping destination except for a few people that don’t leave town much. Being rural means almost everyone is mobile and “goes to town” at least once a week for shopping. Your store is more or less a convenience store for the forgotten items on the list. I am not sure of the variety offered at the gas station, if they even offer more that alcohol and snack foods. I drive 25 miles each way daily to a larger town that has a multiple of national and regional grocery chain options. If your locals have the same option, that will limit the convenience store usage a bit. So, I would think your 12 pack and larger sizes would be a slower sale as I’d pick them up in town during my weekly shopping or on my way home from work. I now run to the nearby place for a 6 pack if I run out (a 20-year-old in the house will do that to you.) So those are the people that will hit your store. I do not know wine and think getting a hard liquor license would help you also. That said, sales should be picking up as it is hunting and football season in Wisconsin, keep the beer cold and it will go.

ETA: high school basketball is just starting so the after game parties at “Fort Knox” or Olsen’s woods will be starting soon and mom & dad’s beer supply will disappear more often. This remember IS Wisconsin.