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How to Open a Liquor Store in 5 Simple Steps

What do the most successful liquor store business owners have in common?

They follow proven and results-driven steps to deliver (and guarantee) results.

We get it — starting a small business kind of feels like herding a bunch of cats. With so many moving parts, it’s difficult to know where to start or what to prioritize.

To make matters more complicated, there are some unique legal requirements that liquor store business owners must comply with. There are a handful of permits and liquor licenses that owners must secure from outset.

When you consider all of these variables, how can you ensure that your business has everything it needs to succeed now and into the future? It’s a delicate balancing act of processes, systems, and strategies that business owners must “figure out” quickly.

In this article, we’ll give you the step-by-step procedures to open a new liquor store. Follow these expert tips to open a successful business and scale to new heights!

How to Open a Liquor Store: 5 Simple Steps

The liquor industry is one of the most challenging industries to enter because of the local and state regulations enforced by major governing bodies. However, creating a reasonable go-to-market strategy can make the entire process much easier. 

Your go-to-market plan should include the following elements:

  • Business plan
  • Budget and financial plan
  • Licenses and permits
  • Location
  • Point of sale (POS) partnership

Why are these items so important? Let’s review. 

1. Write a Business Plan 

Start by drafting a business plan. 

Your business plan is designed to serve as a roadmap or blueprint toward business success. Additionally, should you decide to pursue funding, investors will almost assuredly ask for a business plan that outlines your business/financial goals.

Your liquor store business plan should include the following: 

  • Executive summary and company details
  • Market research
  • Management structure
  • Funding requests and information
  • Financial projections
  • Marketing and advertising planning
  • Inventory sourcing
  • Inventory management plans


2. Create a Budget and Financial Plan 

The best way to avoid overspending on unnecessary expenses is to create a robust budget and financial plan. In short, this document should outline current and anticipated expenses. In this way, you’ll have an accurate picture of your financial situation.

Be sure to plan and budget for the following line items:

  • Permits/Licenses
  • Inventory
  • POS system
  • Employee compensation
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Real estate 
  • Business and liability insurance
  • Local and state taxes

All of the items listed above are mission-critical to the rapid and sustained success of your growing liquor store.

3. Apply for Business Permits and Licenses 

The availability and distribution of liquor licenses in your county or state depends on several factors, including star quota and types of liquor sold.

Suppose you’re looking for a liquor license in a state with no liquor licenses available. In that case, the alternative is to purchase another business owner’s license and have them transfer it over to you. 

Similar to liquor licenses, business and zoning permits are also highly regulated for liquor stores. In many states, regulations stipulate where certain establishments can and cannot operate. For example, in some states, liquor stores are not operable within a certain distance of schools and places of worship. 

If you find yourself struggling to obtain a liquor license, it’s recommended to obtain your liquor license first and then obtain your business and zoning permits. This reduces the risks and costs that come with renting or buying a liquor store location that isn’t in accordance with local regulations.


4. Find a Profitable Location 

Location, location, location. 

We’ve all heard that phrase when it comes to real estate. The same holds true for your liquor store location. The more foot traffic you get, the less you will need to spend on advertising and the more potential profit you will have.

When looking for a profitable location, it’s crucial to consider the local shops and stores around the location you’re scouting and how many people pass by organically. This will help you estimate how much traffic you will get daily.

The next recommended step to consider is logistics. How much parking is available? Will this location have enough room for all the inventory you’re planning to sell? Are you looking to sell liquor to then be consumed on-site or off-site?

5. Partner With a POS Vendor 

Finally, consider partnering with a liquor store POS provider.

From improved inventory management to better payment processing, there are thousands of reasons to partner with a next-generation POS provider. A great POS vendor will equip you and your team with the necessary tools (hardware and software) to start ringing in sales right away.

In your search for the right POS provider, prioritize the following features: 

  • Built-in age verification
  • Fast and reliable payment processing
  • Inventory tracking
  • Inventory management
  • Promotion and sale management
  • Custom bottle pricing
  • Sales data and on-demand reporting functionality

POS Nation offers all the industry-specific POS system features business owners like yourself need to launch and manage a successful liquor store.

Finding the Right POS System for Your Liquor Store

In many cases, liquor stores incur more upfront costs than most other businesses. However, a commitment to a results-driven go-to-market strategy can situate your business for massive success (and profits)!


After creating your bulletproof go-to-market strategy, it’s time to start reeling in customers! To learn more about the exact processes and strategies business owners follow to create quick and easy profits, we recommend signing up for our free webinar: Increasing Your Liquor Store Profits in 2021.

In this recorded webinar, we discuss the following:

  • Top technology trends to pay attention to
  • Top challenges preventing business owners from scaling

Fill out the form to watch the recording!

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