Pandemic bringing success to local alcohol suppliers, struggles for breweries

By: Brandon Spencer | WCTV Eyewitness News
April 2, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- While many businesses are struggling as the coronavirus pandemic continues, one industry is having no issues at all.

Alcohol sales are sky-rocketing. According to Nielsen Research, liquor sales are up 55% across the country.

Businesses that sell booze in Tallahassee are moving to curbside delivery and online sales.

However, that's not solving the financial puzzle for all of them.

"We're just, you know, trying to figure out what the best thing for the community is and still be able to maintain our business model and everything," said Adam Hanley with Market Square Liquors, Fine Wine and Spirits.

Market Square is a store and bar selling liquor, wine and spirits, and when COVID-19 limited the gatherings of people, the moved to curbside delivery, making things as easy as possible for customers.

"You pay for it over the phone and we bring it right out to your car. So it makes it easy for people," Hanley explains. "You don't even have to turn your engine off. You show up, get what you like and head on your way."

With nationwide hard liquor sales up 75% and wine sales up 66%, local stores are enjoying the influx.

"I think people are being more adventurous with what they're buying and stocking up and everything and that helps a lot," he continues. "So yeah sales are definitely up, a lot of people are coming out and stocking up."

Local breweries have also made the move to curbside, and even though beer sales are up 44%, businesses like Deep Brewery are still feeling the loss in revenue.

"We're down about 30% or so just from the retail side of the business," said Deep Brewery's Ryan Lapete. "There's definitely no replacing people coming here."

But, with support from the community,the transition has kept them afloat.

"Thankfully, our community right here around us have been supporting us heavily," Lapete said. "So, we've been doing well and keeping the staff busy."

Both businesses are thankful for those supporting them as they adjust to the pandemic.

"We really like serving people and hopefully, something we're doing is contributing to making this quarantine a little bit easier for everybody," said Hanley.

"We're not going anywhere," adds Lapete. "We'll be here on the other side of this, however long it takes, and we'll keep trying to make great beer and make sure we can get it to you in a safe way."

According to Nielsen, since in-store purchases have been limited, online sales of alcohol have soared by 243%.