Beverage Dynamics

Beverage Dynamics Jan-Feb 2016

Beverage Dynamics is the largest national business magazine devoted exclusively to the needs of off-premise beverage alcohol retailers, from single liquor stores to big box chains, through coverage of the latest trends in wine, beer and spirits.

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The climate- and light-controlled, walk-in wine cellar is stocked with high-end wines, some of which are hard to fi nd in the state, let alone in a town of 2,000 people. "We're one of the few stores that get some of the re- ally collectible wines," Mike says. "We're on that short list where, if a few cases come into the state, we're usually among the top two or three that get the phone call." The local wine enthusiasts have even grown along with the store. "Many of our customers have a wine cellar a lot like ours," Nick says. Wine lovers and high-end collectors are major revenue drivers for the store, which has continued to grow even as big-box operators like Total Wine & More have entered the market. "We're 50 percent wine, 25 percent liquor and 25 per- cent beer. Pretty evenly split," Mike says. That split is especially attractive because of the high margins. "Wine you can work on 25-30 percent margin," he says. "Obviously there's some loss and there are some skinnier margins that that. But you can get more on wine. I think with beer we're lucky to get 10 to 15 percent on some SKUs." S M A L L B U T C O M P E T I T I V E One case of collectable wine does a whole lot more than keep the lights on. Despite the relatively small size, the Yunger family pulls in some pretty impressive sales fi gures. A Father and Son Operation HIGH-END WINE A WIN AS LIQUOR BARN CONTINUES TO GROW By Nicholas Upton As Minnesota trends toward large-scale operators, one Long Lake retailer is growing in an evolving market with a hyper focus on high-end wine. The store has a long history going back to 1976, when Jack Yunger opened shop when Long Lake was still a small town. From the open- ing day, the elder Yunger prided himself on great customer service and ample selection. A few years later, his son Mike graduated from college and started working at the family store. The family got along great, and unlike many family-owned businesses, the generations worked together easily, despite Jack Yunger's retirement to Florida. And with the addition of Mike's son Nick to the family busi- ness, they still do. "My dad and I got along famously," Mike Yunger says. "My son and I also get along really well." Of course, there are some "diff erences in philosophies," said Yunger. "Our differences are more generational ideas," Nick says. "We're pretty good at negotiating. Nei- ther of us say, 'it's gotta be my way.' I think we get along better than most family-run businesses." Mike and Nick are the only full-time work- ers at the 4,000-square foot store currently, and with a staff of six part-timers, they said they try to keep tight control over the opera- tions at the store. While they hope to hire some dedicated employees to take on more of a man- agerial role, the tight control means father or son are always in the store. They would especially like to take some more wine tours to expand their already impressive knowledge of high-wines even further. A F O C U S O N W I N E "We really got into the high end wine about 15 years ago," Mike says. He credits the small, affl uent community for coming back to the unas- suming store, despite a major highway re-routing that drew commuters around the hamlet. "There are a lot of collectors," Mike says of the area. "People collect wine and they're looking for the best." Liquor Barn Fast Facts LOCATION: Long Lake, MN FOUNDED: 1976 FOUNDER: Jack Yungner SIZE: 4,000 square feet, including walk-in wine cellar SELECTION: Approximately 50 percent wine, 25 percent spirits and 25 percent beer REVENUE: Just under $2 million per year 38 Beverage Dynamics • January/February 2016

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