Local Liquor Outlets See Decline in Profits Following Law Change

Barely a month into the liquor law change in Oklahoma that allows grocery stores to sell high point beer and wine has led some liquor stores in Edmond to report as much as a 25 percent drop in revenue.

Jill Ogden has owned liquor stores in Oklahoma for 15 years. Currently, Ogden and her husband own Second Street Wine Company, which they have had for nine years.

Being in the liquor business for over a decade, Ogden established relationships with her customers, but with the liquor law change looming over her shop, she said it was hard not to fear customers choosing grocery stores instead.

“We knew it was coming,” Ogden said. “We always knew it would be very detrimental for us, the small, independently-owned business owner in Oklahoma.”

Since the law change, Ogden said there has been a 15 percent drop in revenue. Other liquor stores in the community told Ogden they have had a drop of up to 25 percent.

“We are kind of counting ourselves lucky that it’s where it is,” Ogden said.

Edmond liquor stores made approximately $29 million in sales in 2017, a 1.4 percent increase from the previous year.

Now having to compete against larger companies, and not what Ogden calls other “Mom and Pops,” Ogden said the task is daunting.

“[These larger companies] could literally buy and sell my store every single day and it wouldn’t faze them,” Ogden said. “We just have to focus on what we’re good at, and that’s assisting the customer.”

To combat these larger companies, Ogden said she is coming up with new ways to keep customers shopping at her store. One of the changes is selling gift baskets, as well as having a cooler that will allow the store to sell cold beverages. In addition, Ogden said they are also taking any suggestions from customers on what else they should sell.

Suggestions from customers have ranged from salts to put on their glasses to selling cheese to be served with wine. Second Street Wine Co. is doing everything they can to keep grocery stores from dominating the market, according to Ogden.

Jed Ferguson, a banker in Edmond, said he was excited when he heard about the law change. Even with his stated excitement and the draw of a convenience factor, Ferguson still said he chooses to shop at small liquor stores.

“I’ve always come [to Second Street Wine Company], they have great service and provide expertise on certain wine and beer,” Ferguson said. “I enjoy supporting local businesses, so with my dollars, I try to do everything I can to support local shops.”

Warren Porter, City of Edmond director of finance, said it’s too early to determine the effects the law change will have on the community.

“It is early so there has been no data made available to us to determine if there has been much of a shift in buying habits,” Porter said.

The new law was passed with a majority vote in 2016 and went into effect on Oct. 1.

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