Booze suppliers tap Aspen market
ASPEN ” Those seeking cheap booze without driving hundreds of miles to get it can toast to a growing industry of liquor delivery to Aspen from Denver.
Lukas Liquors has been delivering booze, beer and wine to Aspen on a weekly basis for years. Apple Jack Wine and Spirits entered the local market four months ago and makes deliveries to Aspen once a month.
Both liquor warehouses are located in Denver and offer deep discounts compared to what’s available in the high country.
“The difference between here and there is pricing,” said Tami Merfeld, who is in charge of events and delivery at Lukas Liquors, based in Lone Tree, Colo.
“We are half to one-third less in prices across the board,” she added.
Lukas Liquors has been delivering to thirsty Aspenites for five years. But it wasn’t until about three years ago that it became a regular route ” every Thursday Lukas will deliver to your door.
“We have about 25 customers a week and we gain two to three new customers weekly,” Merfeld said, adding most of her business is through referrals.
“Word of mouth has kept our business going,” she said.
It was Apple Jack’s dedicated customers who convinced the company’s president, Jim Shpall, to start delivering to the Roaring Fork Valley in September.
“We were getting a lot of calls from our Aspen customers,” he said, adding residents in the valley routinely make the trek to Denver to stock up on their booze supplies.
Apple Jack figured it would try bringing the supply directly to where the demand is. Shpall recognized that business would be slow at first because he entered the market during the offseason.
“November has been great,” he said, adding a couple dozen of deliveries are made in Aspen every second Wednesday of the month.
Shpall doesn’t know how many customers Apple Jack has won over since it started offering the liquor delivery but he does know the business is growing.
Both liquor superstores focus on customer service and pride themselves on their relationships with their clientele.
“We have personal relationships with our customers,” Merfeld said, adding Lukas Liquors also delivers to Vail but business is much greater in Aspen.
There are about 200 customers in Aspen that use Lukas Liquor regularly; Merfeld has about 400 Aspen residents on file that have used the service at some point.
She said Lukas’ business in Aspen has tripled since 2004; weekly deliveries average about $5,000 in sales.
But for both companies, the holiday season sees huge increases.
“This time of the year is crazy busy,” Merfeld said, adding business doubles during December. “You guys like to have parties, I’ve noticed.”
Merfeld said she hasn’t seen a shift in customer base since Apple Jack started delivering.
“When we heard about [them coming] we were concerned but we have to trust that we have relationships with our customers,” she said.
The offerings given to customers might make a difference for some. Lukas Liquor charges $7 for delivery; Apple Jack charges $30. Lukas Liquors has a $50 minimum; Apple Jack’s is $250. And credit card purchases are not allowed at Apple Jack.
“That’s 80 percent of our business,” Merfeld said.
Shpall said Apple Jack is a family-run business and is flexible with its minimum orders. For example, some customers will combine their orders and split the cost of delivery.
While many residents like to keep their local liquors stores in business by shopping locally, there is another benefit ” sales taxes here are 8.6 percent. Lukas Liquors charges 6.25 percent, which is the rate in Lone Tree.
Both liquor stores offer virtual shopping online. Both websites have mountain delivery links where customers can peruse the vast inventory.
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The Roaring Fork School District began its transition of bringing students back to school for in-person learning on Monday, starting with K-3. If all goes well, grades 5-8 will start Oct. 26 and high school students on Nov. 2.