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Robin Garr

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Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by Robin Garr » Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:15 pm

I'm not sure what to think of this. When Lexington's Liquor Barn took over from the old Party Source (which still remains in Northern Kentucky), our local big box liquor chain lost a step or two. Then a Canadian firm bought them and they got worse. I don't know any kind way to say that I'm not expecting much improvement with this development.

Blue Equity, a Louisville-based private equity firm controlled by Jonathan Blue, on Monday announced the purchase of Liquor Barn from publicly traded Liquor Stores N.A. of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, for a reported $26 million.

Liquor Barn is a Kentucky-based spirits, wine and beer retailer with 15 stores, including six in Louisville and six in Lexington, as well as stores in Danville, Bowling Green and Elizabethtown.

Blue Equity already owns two Party Mart stores in Louisville, giving them a lock on the state’s party store business.
http://www.kentucky.com/news/business/a ... 94983.html
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Jerry C

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Re: Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by Jerry C » Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:15 pm

our local big box liquor chain lost a step or two. Then a Canadian firm bought them and they got worse. I don't know any kind way to say that I'm not expecting much improvement with this development.


Jonathan is a shrewd businessman, and often invests in under-performing or close to bankrupt entities. Many of these turn into profitable ventures. I do not know the financial status of liquor barn, but if this move helps them from going under, I see that as a good thing.

Robin, what kind of changes would you like to see?
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Re: Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by Robin Garr » Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:29 pm

Jerry C wrote:Robin, what kind of changes would you like to see?

In my dream world, a return to having highly knowledgeable wine people on staff, and an effort to bring in interesting and artisanal wines, not just commercial brands and high-scoring trophies. Probably isn't going to happen.
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Re: Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by Jerry C » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:56 pm

having highly knowledgeable wine people on staff


May you could apply, Robin. :lol:
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Re: Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by Robin Garr » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:33 pm

Jerry C wrote:
having highly knowledgeable wine people on staff


May you could apply, Robin. :lol:

Not a chance! I was thinking of someone like Ann Joseph and David Schildknecht (later a Parker reviewer) on the old Party Source staff, and Ken, who later went on to own the Middletown wine shop. Those guys are way above my pay grade, plus I have zero interest in working retail.
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Re: Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by Eric Hall » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:55 pm

Liquor barn in KY was an underperforming asset of the public Canadian parent company.

Total Wine entering the Louisville market has led to a big shake up in the off premise booze business. Liquor Barn has taken the biggest lumps. And total wine is opening in Lexington later this month. A good time to sell in my opinion.
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Re: Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by Jay M. » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:02 pm

Eric Hall wrote:...Total Wine entering the Louisville market has led to a big shake up in the off premise booze business...


Yup. Unfortunately, Gemelli Wine and Spirits was a casualty.
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Re: Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by Mike D » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:51 am

Jay M. wrote:
Eric Hall wrote:...Total Wine entering the Louisville market has led to a big shake up in the off premise booze business...


Yup. Unfortunately, Gemelli Wine and Spirits was a casualty.


I was not aware that Gemelli had closed.

I've been to Total Wine once or twice, but at least 95% of our wine, beer, bourbon and gin purchases goes to The Wine Rack. Sure, if I go to Total Wine, Party Mart or Liquor Barn I can save a dollar or so on a six pack of beer, and the $15 bottle of wine at The Wine Rack might be $12 or $13 at the big box stores, but I'm an inveterate "Buy Local" guy and one of the real attractions to living in Crescent Hill is access to The Wine Rack, Just Creations, Carmichael's, Oscar's Hardware, etc. I'm willing to pay a little extra to keep them in the neighborhood.

Plus, John Johnson and his staff at The Wine Rack are personable, knowledgeable, and never steer us wrong when pairing wine with food.
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Re: Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by Robin Garr » Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:35 pm

Mike D wrote:I was not aware that Gemelli had closed.

Totally agree on Wine Rack, Mike. It's within walking distance of my quarters, and John is a good guy. As for Gemelli, that was sad. I know Evie and Dan had sold it to one of their employees, and around that same time it moved from Brownsboro to Chenoweth Square. You'd think being right across from Paul's would have been good for traffic, but for some reason it was hard to see there.
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Re: Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by Steve P » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:21 pm

Airlines, tech firms, retail companies, restaurant chains, I can't recall seeing good things EVER come out of a sale to a "Private Equity" firm...

As for The Liquor Barn - Probably 90% of our wine and spirit purchases have shifted to either Total Wine and Spirits or Oldham County outlets in the past year. The prices at Total Wine and Spirits are substantially cheaper (on the things we buy) and the staff is attentive and seems to be knowledgeable. If our buying habits are indicative of other east-side and/or Oldham County residents - Then the Liquor Barn must be feeling a bit of pain in the bottom line.
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Re: Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by RonnieD » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:52 pm

Maybe it's just me, but I have no desire to go to a place called "Liquor Barn." It just sounds dumb to me. Old Town in Highlands gets pretty much all of our adult beverage business when there is call for such a thing.
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Re: Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by Robin Garr » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:56 pm

RonnieD wrote:Maybe it's just me, but I have no desire to go to a place called "Liquor Barn." It just sounds dumb to me. Old Town in Highlands gets pretty much all of our adult beverage business when there is call for such a thing.

I think it was their way of declaring big-box status back when that was a new thing for wine, liquor and beer, but yeah. I used to go out a lot when Ken and Ann and David were the wine geeks at what was formerly Party Source, but after the Liquor Barn sale, it really just didn't justify the trip any more.

I go to Old Town also for rarities that I can't find at The Wine Rack, and I've been going there for a long time. It does seem that its price points have been going up in recent years, though. :(
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Re: Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by Margie L » Wed Nov 22, 2017 1:29 pm

I didn't even know about Total Wine, but I try to avoid the traffic out there. My current default is Lucky's.
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Re: Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by Carla G » Wed Nov 22, 2017 3:30 pm

I dunno. I guess it depends on what you want from your shopping experience. And, granted, some people don’t need an “experience” they just want to be able to get what they know they already want, buy it inexpensively and get back to their lives. Nothing wrong with that.
BUT...
I like Westport Whiskey and Wine because I don’t want to see a six foot, three shelf display of Beefeaters or Makers Mark or Johnny Walker. I love looking at the dozens of small batch or boutique spirits from all over the world. And I really love the free advice and background information offered by a knowledgeable salesperson when I’m there. I don’t get that at the big box stores.
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Re: Jonathan Blue is buying all the Liquor Barn stores

by SilvioM » Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:19 pm

In addition to the dumb name, the building in St. Mathews was a terrible eyesore. My childhood home is a few blocks from it, so I'm glad that it's gone. Old Town is my go-to.
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