Opening a liquor store in the midst of the Covid pandemic was no small feat. While it was true that sales of liquor increased dramatically at the start of lockdown — April to June 2020 saw 34% more sales of alcoholic beverages than 2019, per a University of Southern California study — by March 2021 the boom had begun to decline and supply chain issues threatened to create sudden and sharp shortages of in-demand products.
That was the business environment that Piklys Spirits Wine & Beer faced upon opening May 28, 2021. Located on the corner of Main Street and Stratford Avenue in the heart of Stratford, Piklys’ location was theoretically good, but there were already several established liquor stores in the area with regular customers.
To stand out, Piklys adopted something the more established business hadn’t considered: home delivery. But instead of building out their own service, they turned to DoorDash, which brought the height of app-based services within reach to small-business owners. After beginning to offer DoorDash deliveries in December 2021, the store recorded a 20% increase in sales.
Store owners Ferrer and Yvlaine Alexis named their store Piklys to celebrate their Haitian heritage — piklys (also spelled pikliz or picklese) is a condiment akin to a very spicy coleslaw.
“It’s a staple, and in the Haitian community when it comes to food, we put it on everything,” said Becker Ben, accountant and spokesperson for Piklys, who noted the store needed something extra to stand out from its competition.
“Right now if you have a business and you’re only trying to reach the people in walking distance, you’re not going to be successful,” Ben said. “When I saw what DoorDash has done for food and other stores, it was a no brainer to do it with a liquor store as well.”
Ben said he got the Doordash contact information from one of the stores with a sticker in the window, discussed the plan with the Alexises, and made the call to DoorDash.
“I called and they told me what the process was,” Ben explained. “It wasn’t that hard because we were already using Clover for inventory management, so it was just a matter of giving them that data.”
The Clover point-of-sale system offers integration and data sharing across several apps, which simplified setting up online ordering and tracking sales.
“We have lots of recent customers that are not near us,” Ben continued, noting that demand for delivery also picks up compared to in-store sales at specific times. “Sometimes you’re in bad weather, or it’s a holiday and you don’t want to go out and pick up a bottle of wine and liquor. Now you know you can just go online and order it.”
While sales increase on Fridays and Saturdays, Yvlaine Alexis indicated that Piklys can better take advantage of busy days by leveraging the pool of delivery drivers DoorDash provides to serve customers without filling up the store or lengthening the checkout line.
Ben added the app has also proven popular with people who need to pick up drinks or a bottle of wine after work but might not be able to swing by the shop before closing time on the way home, though somebody over 21 with a valid ID will need to meet the delivery at the door.
According to a DoorDash press release, the boost in sales seen at Piklys is not uncommon, and the good business has also proven to be good news for the dashers who do deliveries. DoorDash’s internal research determined the value for deliveries containing alcohol in Connecticut averaged 22% more per delivery for the company.
The state also saw a 22% increase in merchants selling alcohol through the platform — restaurants represent a large portion of those increases, but liquor stores like Piklys are a growing element.
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