Loadout Liquors new owners celebrate one-year anniversary and look to the future
Owners boost inventory as grocery stores will soon present a new level of competition
Wednesday, Dec. 21, marked the one-year anniversary of Jess and Neil Binder owning Loadout Liquors, and to celebrate the milestone, the store was decorated with balloons while treats were put out near the entryway for customers to enjoy.
“It actually went by really fast,” Jess said of their first year running the business at 1800 W. Victory Way. “None of us can believe it went by so fast.”
Because the anniversary fell near the holidays in the middle of a cold winter, the celebration was kept low key and the store mostly celebrated internally. The crew hosted a staff holiday party at Vallarta’s the weekend prior, which Jess said was nice and relaxed for the small and tight-knit group.
Over the past year, the Binders have made changes here and there to update the longstanding local liquor store, and there will be more changes coming in 2023. Perhaps the biggest change for next year, though, is that grocery stores can start carrying wine after Colorado voters approved a statewide measure in November.
The change won’t be unusual for Jess, who came from California, where grocery stores already carry all kinds of alcohol, but it will still be a change from what the community is used to.
“We knew we would need to be different,” Jess said. “Thankfully, we live in a community that’s very loyal so we think people will still shop with us.”
One of the biggest efforts at Loadout Liquors has been to start getting new inventory into the store, especially different varieties of wine. Jess said that over the years, the selection got a little stagnant, and as the store brings in new wines, customers are starting to notice.
“We’ve had some people tell us they used to have to drive to Steamboat to buy certain brands,” Jess said. “We want people to be able to get the products they want here in town and not have to leave town.”
Neil, a Craig native, is a sommelier who spent time running restaurants in California, so he is bringing some updated tastes to the selection of beers, wines and liquors. The store was also approved by Craig city officials to start offering tastings, which will give customers a chance to sample products before buying a larger quantity.
There have also been some aesthetic changes including a newly painted black ceiling that gives the store a more modern look. The couple also up-cycled some signage they found tucked away in a back room with a new coat of paint and are now hanging it throughout the store as aisle markers.
Jess said that after the new year, they plan to reorganize the wine selection as well. Wines are currently organized by region, which Jess said is confusing for many people, so the new system will organize them by variety.
The next big project for Loadout will be a remodel and addition of a drive-thru, which is just one more way the store hopes to make it easy for customers to shop and stay competitive with grocery stores.
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