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St. Louis Get Might Just Get a Good Liquor Store

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Last month Bill McClellan wrote a column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about troubles George Randall was having opening a wine and spirits store in McKinley Heights. After he'd invested nearly $100,000 transforming an old warehouse into a retail destination at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Interstate 44, the city was withholding an occupancy permit, and Randall was threatening a lawsuit.

Well, there's good news. Randall got his permit and is on track for an April 1 grand opening. The store's arrival could completely transform the dynamics of the area's booze business. Randall's Wine & Spirits will open with 12,000 square feet of retail space, with another 9,000 to expand into. "The selection's going to be huge," Randall explains enthusiastically, calling it "a heck of a wine shop -- like Sam's or Costco as far as pricing.

"We'll be a destination store. If you want to buy wine, liquor or beer you'll be able to get it all in one place at decent prices. We'll have 32 feet of beer on five shelves to start," adds Randall, who also who owns booze importer Spirits of St. Louis and a liquor store in Fairview Heights, Illinois.


He says he plans to stock "a couple hundred thousand dollars'" worth of Bordeaux, and last week he ordered a half-million dollars' worth of Burgundy. Randall heads to Europe in a few weeks to scour the wineries of southern France for good deals, and will search Spain for bargains, as well. "I'm very pro-Spanish. The wines are really good, and they're cheap," he says. "The whole way they do business is great, and the way they make wine." Randall says that as an importer, he'll be selling his wine at prices just above wholesale.

"I don't need to show off," he says, "If you want to be a wine seller that shows off and sells $200, $500 bottles of wine, that's cool, but that is such a small part of what I think the wine and liquor business is about. [Randall's] will be a fun place to shop, where you can go and read the signs and ratings and know that you're getting a good price so then you can go home and say, 'I like it' or 'I don't like it.' After that it's personal taste."

Firing the first shot in what may be a coming price war, Randall adds: "In Clayton everything is so high, and it's all frou-frou stuff. They're trying to sell the sizzle -- and there's not a whole lot of meat there.

"Sell me the car that has the features and the benefits that I want," he says, "but I don't want to spend $76,000 for the BMW. Give me a Toyota, or a Honda. It's got all the basics, and it's $30,000 or $40,000 less."

-Randall Roberts



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