Liquor Boy — the St. Louis Park liquor store that instituted everyday low pricing before Total Wine & More landed in the Twin Cities — has been sold.
Owner John Wolf sold the store earlier this week to Judd Greenagel of Minneapolis, who previously worked for a liquor supplier and is the former operations director of the Mid-States Poker Tour.
“This was an unsolicited offer,” Wolf said. “The store has never done better, and it continued to grow every year. He’s buying it because it is very successful.”
Greenagel said he doesn’t plan any major changes to the store, including the staff.
“There’s no sense changing it,” he said. “It’s a great store.”
Wolf, who still owns Chicago Lake Liquors in Minneapolis, instituted the high-volume-low price concept to the Twin Cities after admiring a store in Chicago that was doing it successfully. But he couldn’t get as many suburban customers to come to the store on Chicago and Lake streets as he had hoped, so he opened Liquor Boy in St. Louis Park in 2012 near a Costco.
“The Costco customer is my customer, but I wanted to offer more service, selection and refrigerated product,” he said.
Family and friends in the business thought he was crazy opening so close to Costco. Wolf’s prices were comparable to Costco’s, but with a larger amount of space, he offered more choices of wine, beer and spirits.
“John made pricing more transparent,” said Jennifer Scholler, past president of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association. “It made people more aware of the differences that people could pay.”
When Total Wine opened in Minnetonka last year, Liquor Boy initially saw a dip in business, but eventually the superstore had “zero effect,” Wolf said.
A scrappy competitor, Wolf chose the St. Louis Park location to be close to Edina’s municipal stores, which tend to have higher prices to generate more revenue for their city.
Wolf has consistently run ads comparing his prices to competitors’. “Other stores lowered their prices during a periodic sale,” he said. “I was trying to be a disrupter by offering the same low prices every day.”
He’s taken on Total Wine by cutting his prices on Total Wine’s Winery Direct and Spirits Direct products by 40 percent or more, including Buttercream chardonnay, Iter Napa Valley Cabernet and Tower vodka.
When Liquor Boy opened, Wolf talked of adding additional locations. That never materialized, but Wolf said it wasn’t due to lack of success.
“It’s a quality-of-life issue,” he said. “My boys are 8 and 9, and more stores is not conducive to being present for them,” he said.
His Chicago Lake Liquors store will be getting a revamp in 2019. Wolf plans to gut the store, remodel and bring in a wider range of products, including higher-end wines and spirits.