What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful wine shop?
This type of business can be run as a small or large-scale operation. Most chain stores, like Total Wine, operate by buying a high volume of inventory that they believe has mass market appeal. Smaller wine shops typically cater to connoisseurs who may be looking for specialty wines or particular vineyards.
It’s not unusual, for example, for small wineries and wine stores to be family owned and operated. These small wine stores and wineries are usually located next to or on vineyards and the wine is made in-house and sold in their store.
For example, Lakewood Vineyards is a family-run winery in upstate New York which also runs a wine store where they make, bottle, and sell their own wine.
To run this type of wine store, a business owner would have to purchase a vineyard and learn how to run it.
Wine resellers, on the other hand, don’t need to be quite so involved. They may contract with wineries to sell their wine. Under this arrangement, the winery will usually sell the wine store their varietals and blended wines at special wholesale pricing for volume purchases. The reseller then marks up the bottles and sells them to the general public.
Resellers can also buy from larger distributors.
What are the costs involved in opening a wine shop?
To be successful in the wine business, an entrepreneur will find a background in accounting helpful because of the thin margins in the industry. In many states, alcohol is tightly regulated, licensing is strict, and paperwork is plentiful. Some states, like North Carolina, do not allow private ownership of liquor stores, so wine stores are restricted to selling wine and beer. So, business owners entering this industry need to be willing to deal with regulators and bureaucrats constantly. They also need good business sense and organizational skills to manage what can be, at times, a complex ordering and distribution process.
States also require stores to hold a liquor or alcohol license before they can sell or distribute alcohol.
Read our wine shop purchasing guide to learn about the materials and equipment you’ll need to start a wine shop, how much to budget, and where to make purchases.
Should you consider joining a franchise?
Joining a wine shop franchise can be a good option for entrepreneurs who prefer to use a proven model rather than start from scratch. While joining one can mean slightly higher initial costs and less control, a quality franchise offers great benefits such as initial and ongoing support, marketing assistance, and brand recognition.
Opening a wine shop franchise typically requires $200,000-$500,000.
Interested in joining a wine shop franchise? Check out our favorites.
GROWING YOUR BUSINESS
Growing Your Business
How to promote & market a wine shop
Costs for a small startup wine store can range from $50,000 to over $300,000. Your first year’s revenue may be negative, depending on your location. This is a business that can take a few years to turn a profit.
How to keep customers coming back
Marketing is typically local advertising. In some states, advertising may be restricted. However, wine stores usually enjoy repeat and referral business from a loyal customer base.
How and when to build a team
Wine stores sometimes find it difficult to differentiate themselves from other stores. This can be, in part, due to government regulation of the industry. However, a wine store can generally compete by marketing itself to a select market or implementing themed events. For example, a wine store might organize wine flights from various regions around the world and host them several times per month or during different seasons.