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
>>>> Part 5 – Prepare the Location (You Are Here)
>> 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
In Part 3 – Finding the Ideal Location, we described how we purchased a mixed-use building to house the store. We were so excited when we finally closed on the building and could not wait to get to work as this step of preparing the location was probably one of our favorite steps in the process. This is where things started to become real and our ideas were starting to take shape. Below are a lot of pictures to really show the transformation that we did to the location, but we believe it is important to show the entire process and some of the adjustments that we made along the way.
The building that we purchased had quite a bit of deferred maintenance, meaning that the previous owners had done kept up on repairs. Below are a few images of what the future location of the store looked like on the day we closed. We believe the building was previously used as an office of some sort. There were 3 rooms. The first was an entry/waiting area with a glass window into the second room. The second and third rooms looked like they were used for offices.
Oh, and of course we can’t get into any sort of renovation without running into something like this. Any idea what it is? That’s right. There was a leak from somewhere. Instead of fixing the leak, the previous owners decided they would just hang a tarp to catch all the water…
Before you get started on any renovations, it is important to have a vision for the end state. This vision does not have to contain all of the details, but you do want to make some major decisions in terms of wall layouts. Below was our initial concept of the space that would eventually become the liquor store. We wanted to open up the floor-plan and remove the walls for the 3 offices. We also needed to add a bathroom because this unit did not have one. It’s important to note that you don’t need any fancy tools for this. We took measurements of the space, originally drew it up on a whiteboard, then transferred it to Microsoft Visio to produce the diagram below.
Going along with our plan, we knocked out the walls and drop ceiling. We began framing in a new higher ceiling and drywalling the outer walls. Since we wanted to maximize space, we decided that we could tweak our original plan to pick up some square footage. We decided to close off the rear entry to the basement and reuse an internal one next to the bathroom. This allowed us to use the put the back corner to use as floor space. We really wanted the design of the store to stand out to provide our customers with an enjoyable experience. We knew that we wanted a lot of light and something different. After brainstorming, my father had the great idea to run can lights down the center, but then to also run an open soffit around the outside with additional can lights. In the below image you can see the center can lights along with the soffit and cans that run around the outside. You will also see that we picked up space for an additional shelf by reshaping a wall that was shared with the bathroom. In part of opening up the store, we replaced the single front window with 2 floor to ceiling windows. This allowed more natural light and a much better view into the store. We also built out the counter. If you notice, we did not close in the counter. Instead, we realized that we could use the space on the front and side of the counter to display additional bottles.
Now that the major construction work was done, we had to take a step back and really determine how we were going to layout the shelves within the store. I spent several hours researching various shelving and racks, crunching the numbers to determine how many bottles we could fit in each rack and how to maximize the space. I also wanted to make sure that the store would flow well. The problem with the original design was that there were too many shelves in the middle. As a result, we needed extra floor space for multiple walkways. I determined not only could we fit an additional 1,500+ bottles if we simply switched to a single shelf in the middle with walkways on each side. As a result, I adjusted the diagram to reflect this. Once I had the diagram, I picked up some blue painters tape and actually measured/taped out the design in the store. This made sure that the measurements were all correct and that we had enough space between the various shelves. The final step was to install flooring. We decided to go with commercial carpet. There are some additional things that we did to the store before we opened, which we will discuss in Part 8 – Final Preparations. Since we had to wait on final approval of the application before we could open, we held off on several items until after we had received out license. In the next part, we will discuss some of the items that we worked on while we waited for our license to get approved.
Coming Up Next: Part 6 – Waiting for Licenses