In this 10 part series, we are going to pull back the curtain and take you behind the scenes as we started our wine and liquor store.  We recommend starting at the beginning.  Some of this information will be specific to our store and New York State, but we will try to keep most of the information general to apply to a variety of brick and mortar stores.  If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and we will do our best to answer.

>> Introduction – 10 Part Series: How to Start Your Own Business
>> Part 1 – Find Your Desire: Why Do You Want to Open a Store? 
>> Part 2 – Research the Market: Will it Support Your Product or Service? 
>> Part 3 – Finding the Ideal Location 
>>>> Part 4 – Get Required Licenses (You Are Here)
>> Part 5 – Prepare the Location
>> Part 6 – Waiting for Licenses
>> Part 7 – Getting Approved
>> Part 8 – Final Preparations
>> Part 9 – Grand Opening
>> Part 10 – 1 Year Review: A Look Back

After finalizing the location for our business in step 3, it was now time for us to get all of the required licenses.  Depending on your business type and location, these steps will be different for you.  Some people may not even need to get any licenses.  Make sure to check with your local chamber of commerce and town clerk for any questions.

Determine the Licenses You Need

We actually reviewed this step during Part 2 – Research the Market: Will it Support Your Product or Service? because we knew that the wine and liquor industry in New York is regulated by the State Liquor Authority.  Their website has a section that contains all of the forms that you need to submit to get a license and the criteria for it.  We printed out required forms and documentation from their website and made a list of everything that we would need to do to get them completed.  Below are a few of the steps:

  • Fill out application
  • Fill out any additional forms required to be submitted, such as a copy of the lease for the location
  • Get fingerprinted
  • Purchase required insurance

Fill Out the Required Forms


Once I had a list of the required form, I got busy filling them out.  This became somewhat on a wild goose chase, as I would be stalled on one section and needed to do something else first in order to complete it before I could continue.  For example, I had to have the business created before I could submit the application.  This required me to jump on to LegalZoom and register the business.  But before I could create a business, I had to have the business name.

*Note: We are not lawyers and do not offer legal advice.  We recommended consulting a lawyer as needed.  With that said, LegalZoom offers assistance with legal matters that you can handle yourself, such as creating a business.  We have used them to create numerous businesses and have saved hundreds of dollars as a result.

Incorporating the Business

*Quick Tip: I spent a lot of time trying to create the perfect name at this point, which slowed down the process.  I was aware, but didn’t think about, that any business can use a DBA (Doing Business As) to allow them to use a different name.  This form can be filed for less than $30 at your local town or city offices.

We brainstormed an initial list of names.

  • Warsaw Wine Cellar
  • Warsaw Spirits
  • Warsaw Fine Wine & Liquor
  • Warsaw Cork & Bottle
  • The * Cellar
  • All in Good Spirits
  • The Grape Wine
  • Don’t Wine Over Crushed Grapes
  • * Fine Wines and Spirits
  • * Wine & Liquor
  • * Liquor Barn
  • The Wine Shelf
  • Warsaw Fine Wine & Spirits
  • Warsaw Wine Cellar
  • All in Good Spirits, Fine Wine and Liquor
  • “Sweet Country Vines” Fine Wine and Spirits
  • “Corked” or “Corkscrews” Fine Wine and Spirits

After going through several rounds, we decided to go with Warsaw Wine & Spirits.  It was short, to the point and contained the name of the town we were opening the store in.  Additionally, this name would help with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) since it contains the words that people would most likely type into Google when doing a search for wine or liquor in the town.

Before we got too far, we had to make sure the name was available, both as a business within the state and also online (domain name, social media sites, etc).  For New York State, we were able to search on the Division of Corporations website.  Additionally, we checked that the website with this name was available and registered it with BlueHost and made sure our name was not taken on social media sites with KnowEm.

*Quick Tip: We outlined the steps needed in this section in great detail in our free eBook “The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Website/Blog“.  Be sure to check it out for more detailed steps on this process.

Complete the Application

As mentioned, there were a bunch of things that we needed to do in order to complete the application.  Below is a high level overview of some of those activities:

  • Arrange financing and break down where the money was coming from and what it was being used for
  • Sign a lease for the location of the store
  • Provide current pictures of location and provide/describe any changes being made
  • Determine any managers for the business
  • Fill out personal questionnaires for the business
  • Purchase Workers’ Compensation and Disability Insurance
  • Ensure property is not within 300 feet of a School or Church

Have a Lawyer Review & Submit the Application

It took me a few months to pull all of this information today.  Once I had what I thought was a good place, I had our attorney review it.  After a few more rounds of back and forth, we finally had it complete and we submitted it.

Again to give a time-frame on this, I had started looking at this license back in September/October of the previous year, but did not get active in filling it out since so much hinged on finding the location.  I really started working on filling it out in December and we submitted it to the state in February.

Outside of this license, we also had to purchase a license for the sign that we displayed on the front of the building.

The details of this page may or may not be relevant to you depending on your business, but we wanted to make sure that we covered the entire process that we had to go through to open our business.  In the next section, we will be going into great detail (with plenty of pictures) of our planning and renovation process to get the location ready to open.

Coming Up Next: Part 5 – Prepare the Location