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Essential Liquor Store Equipment List: Equipment Needed to Start a Liquor Store

Grace JidounAuthor

Essential Liquor Store Equipment List (Appliances, Tools, Essentials)

Opening a liquor store is less complicated than opening a bar, but that’s not to say it’s easy. You may need less equipment than other food retail establishments like grocery stores, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a checklist. Discovering that you're missing certain equipment on opening day can lead to time wasted and money lost.

In this article, we explore the essential equipment you need to run a liquor store to help you avoid forgetting anything. Browse the sections below to figure out exactly what you need.

  • Technology

  • Shopping equipment

  • Display equipment

  • Refrigeration equipment

  • Shelving and storage

What equipment do you need for a liquor store?

Liquor stores may be less complex than grocery stores or convenience stores, but that doesn’t mean you can’t provide a better experience by having the right equipment. This list will help you figure out what your business needs before opening day, and can make a good addition to your business plan.

Technology

Every retail establishment today can benefit from technology to streamline operations. Not only can technology make it easier to serve customers, it can also provide data to help you better understand your store’s performance and make informed decisions to better serve your customers. Here’s the tech you need:

  • Point-of-sale system: A point-of-sale (POS) system is an essential piece of technology that manages store transactions, like a cash register. With a modern POS system like Toast POS, you can easily process sales and payments, manage inventory, and handle all of your accounting needs. Moreover, the robust tool offers analytics for store and product performance and can assist with operational tasks like staff scheduling.

  • Barcode scanners: Scanners are useful for keeping track of inventory and knowing when it’s time to restock shelves. They’re even more useful at the checkout counter Most grocery stores have conveyor belts to assist customers when checking out. A complete station includes barcode scanners connected to your POS to simplify operations.

Shopping equipment

Sure, plenty of customers will come in, grab something off the shelf, and carry it straight to the register, but those with big appetites will need something to shop with.

  • Shopping baskets: Most liquor stores are not big or easily navigable enough for carts, but baskets are a useful provision for customers.

  • Boxes and bags: Help customers get their purchases to the car with boxes or bags to carry bottles.

  • Cleaning materials: Maintain good hygiene by wiping down and sanitizing shopping baskets daily.

Display equipment

Many alcohol brands like to supply liquor stores with marketing materials, but you’ll need ways to showcase those brands as well as your own sales item. Display equipment breaks up the monotony of aisle shelving and helps you advertise higher profit margin items.

  • Retail display stands: Aisle shelving comes with rigid, unsightly ends. Mix it up with display stands to feature special sales, limited-time product offerings, and more.

  • Merchandiser racks: Merchandiser racks fit in under or on top of the checkout counter and allow you to place smaller items like nips, candy, or lighters.

  • Behind counter racks: Behind the counter, you may offer cigarettes, lottery tickets, higher-shelf booze, and other products that require a bit more security. You’ll need shelving and racks that fit nicely in a small space.

Refrigeration equipment

Most liquor and wine is fine on the aisle shelving, but beer is better cold! To run a liquor store, you need a hefty supply of refrigeration equipment.

  • Walk-in units: Whether it’s on- or off-limits to customers, walk-in refrigerators are extremely useful for liquor stores. They offer high-capacity storage for excess inventory and, if you allow customers to enter, can also be a good place to sell larger cases of beer or kegs.

  • Glass door refrigerators: Most liquor stores line the perimeter of the store with fridges for beer, wine, and soft drinks. Regardless of where you place the units, you’ll need significant fridge space.

  • Storage refrigerators: When you have more beer in supply than you can move off the shelves, you need to keep it cold. A walk-in fridge can help with that, but otherwise, you’ll need refrigerators in your storage area.

Shelving and storage

Keeping your inventory organized and well-accounted for is crucial to avoiding waste. Between the front of house, where customers shop, and your storage areas, you’ll need a lot of shelving.

  • Retail shelving: Organized shelving is paramount to the customer experience at your liquor store. Customers should be able to navigate aisles to find what they’re looking for stocked together, be it wine, whiskey, tequila, vodka, or whatever they want. Like bars, most liquor stores organize shelves by placing the more expensive liquor on the top shelf and the least expensive on the bottom shelf. Based on your store’s floor plan, you may want double-sided or single-sided shelving units.

  • Kegs: Not all liquor stores offer kegs, but if have the capacity to store them and clientele that will purchase in high volume, kegs are a vital piece of equipment.

  • Backstock shelving: Excess inventory needs to go somewhere, so load up your storage areas with efficient shelving to quickly replenish sold items.

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Cost of Liquor Store Equipment

Similar to a grocery store, opening a liquor store may cost anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000. Less like a grocery store, a larger percentage of those startup costs will be devoted to inventory and licensing fees. Nonetheless, expect to spend several thousand dollars on liquor store equipment.

Things to Consider When Buying Liquor Store Equipment

Your liquor store’s specific needs will depend on the size and layout of the store. The equipment list is likely less complex or extensive than grocery store or restaurant equipment lists, but it’s nonetheless important to think thoroughly about the equipment you use to build your store.

Take these factors into consideration.

Quality

Refrigerators that don’t cool and shelves that periodically fall apart are non-starters. Buying cheap refrigeration or shelving units that are more likely to fail will make your liquor store dead on arrival.

Make sure appliances and technology like fridges, freezers, cash registers, and credit card readers are made by trusted manufacturers with good reputations. If you’re buying used equipment, verify that it’s made by a quality manufacturer and ask questions about the age, previous use, and current condition of anything you choose to buy. Remember to see and test any equipment in person before paying a dime

Space

Every retail store is limited by its floor plan. However, it’s also less expensive to furnish a small store with equipment than it is a big one. Spend time with a blueprint of your space before making final purchasing decisions. Every piece of equipment you buy should have an appropriate space and allow customers to move freely and comfortably throughout the store. Measure the dimensions of any piece of equipment you aim to buy and test it against your space to make sure everything will fit.

Price

Price is a critical consideration for any business owner. Liquor store owners can save money by buying used shelving and refrigeration, of course, but you have to perform a cost-benefit analysis. What items are okay to buy used and which should you buy new?

Good shelving can last a long time, through multiple owners, while refrigeration units require more maintenance. Likewise, used appliances like refrigerators may no longer be under warranty, making them more expensive to fix in the future. Buying new will likely come with a warranty to save on maintenance in the future.

Ease of Use and Cleaning

The average liquor store may not have a reputation for being sparkling clean, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to keep your establishment looking nice. When shopping for equipment, make sure that the doors to refrigerators will open without issue and shelves will fit together sensibly. Likewise, equipment should be easy to clean and maintain — things you should cover with a company sales representative before deciding to buy.

As far as shelving goes, stainless steel or other metal shelving is easier to clean than wood. Refrigerators with removable backs that face into a storage area will be easier to stock and clean.

Suppliers

A liquor store’s suppliers are its lifeblood — but we’re not talking about alcohol. Equipment suppliers are important, too. It’s true, you don’t need a lot of super fancy equipment to run a liquor store, but when you decide to upgrade by, say, adding a TV by the checkout counter, or introducing a video lottery system, you’ll want to work with quality suppliers that you trust. Great suppliers will be patient and happy to answer all of your questions about how equipment works. With trusted suppliers, you can get multiple financing or purchasing options, as well as warranties and maintenance plans to protect your equipment.

Leasing vs. Buying

If you’re on a budget, leasing equipment, especially appliances like refrigerators or freezers, may be a good idea. Leasing can save you money by making monthly payments rather than paying the full cost upfront. That way, you’ll have more money to spend on other aspects of your business when you’re getting started.

There are a couple of other benefits to leasing over buying, too. For one, lease payments are usually tax-deductible as business expenses, saving you even more money each year. Second, even if you lease equipment, you can often still choose to buy it after the initial lease period. That way, you get an extended trial to see how the equipment works (usually with an affordable maintenance plan), pay down the overall cost, and pay less out of pocket to purchase it outright.

New vs. Used Equipment: Pros and Cons

The pros and cons of buying new vs. used liquor store equipment really come down to personal preference and your unique situation. Not all equipment is the same, and you may be more willing to buy simpler items like shelving used rather than technical equipment like POS tools or computers.

The primary benefit of buying used, of course, is that it’s less expensive than new equipment. Nonetheless, depending on how heavily an item is used, it may be nearing the end of its lifespan, forcing you to replace it sooner than you would like.

A plus to buying new equipment — especially appliances and technical equipment — is that you’ll likely get a warranty for repairs or replacement. Used equipment usually has existed past its warranty term.

Ultimately, you’ll have to look at your equipment checklist and decide what equipment you want and can afford to buy new, and what equipment you can save on by buying used. Always take the time to test equipment and see it first-hand before bringing it into your store.

Want to open a liquor store? There are many steps to take and hoops to jump through, but getting the right equipment shouldn’t be a serious hassle. With this guide, you’ll be able to find the right equipment for your liquor store at the right price.

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Why Toast Retail is Perfect for Liquor Stores

In today's competitive retail landscape, selecting the right technology is essential for both new ventures and established businesses aiming for success. Solutions like Toast retail not only streamline operations, making them more efficient, but also provide invaluable insights to optimize the financial health of the business. 

By harnessing the power of point of sale technology, retailers can gain a competitive edge, improve customer satisfaction, and drive sustainable growth. Choosing the right technology sets the foundation for long-term success, empowering businesses to adapt to evolving market demands and thrive in an increasingly digital world.

The tech that redefined restaurants is now here to transform retail. Supercharge your store with the POS built for high volumes and complexity, offering everything you need to run your business on one platform. Toast's retail offering is a game-changer for businesses like convenience stores, and liquor stores revolutionizing how they operate and interact with customers. Here's why Toast is the perfect fit for these retail environments.

1. Helps Modernize How You Sell

Toast's intuitive, cloud-based system simplifies daily operations. Its user-friendly interface makes staff training a breeze, ensuring seamless adoption across your team. Whether it's processing payments in-store or integrating with online sales channels, Toast ensures a smooth and consistent experience for your customers regardless of how they shop.

  • Intuitive Cloud-Based System: Our intuitive, cloud-based system is easy to learn and easy to use. Say goodbye to complicated interfaces and hello to streamlined processes. Toast is designed to simplify your day-to-day operations, from staff training to consolidated operations, ensuring maximum efficiency and productivity.

  • Seamless Payment Processing: Toast’s seamless payment processing easily integrates with online payments for smoother sales every time, no matter how your customers are shopping. This integration ensures a hassle-free experience for both customers and staff, leading to increased satisfaction and faster transactions.

  • Flexible Order and Checkout Options: Offer flexible and efficient order and checkout options with reliable hardware including handhelds, kiosks, and guest-facing terminals. Adapt to the diverse needs of your customers and reduce wait times at checkout with Toast's versatile hardware solutions, enhancing the overall shopping experience.

2. Streamline Retail Management

Efficiency is key in retail, and Toast delivers with automated, mobile-first inventory management. Say goodbye to manual inventory tracking and hello to SmartScan, a feature that enables quick product scanning and shelf placement. Managing thousands of SKUs becomes effortless with Toast's intuitive product database and bulk update capabilities.

  • Automated, Mobile-First Inventory: Experience the freedom of automated, mobile-first inventory management with Toast. Create and print barcodes in bulk, and take new products from scan to shelf in seconds with our SmartScan feature. Say goodbye to tedious manual inventory tasks and hello to streamlined operations.

  • Efficient SKU Management: Easily manage thousands of SKUs with our intuitive product database and bulk updates feature. Modify, reprice, and import multiple products at once, saving valuable time and resources. With Toast, keeping track of your inventory has never been easier.

  • Retail-Enhanced Dashboards: Stay on top of your business with retail-specific dashboards and cost-tracking reports. Monitor trends, maximize margins, and ensure your top-selling products are always stocked, empowering you to make data-driven decisions that drive profitability.

3. Tailor Your Customer Experience

Toast empowers you to tailor the customer experience to fit your unique retail concept. Whether you're considering adding food service or expanding your offerings, Toast's flexible platform accommodates creative expansion.

  • Creative Expansion Opportunities: Thinking of adding food service to your retail concept? Including Kitchen Display Systems and Order Ready Boards, our flexible platform allows for creative expansion. Explore new revenue streams and enhance the overall customer experience with Toast's versatile features.

  • Online Ordering and Delivery Integrations: Give your guests the option to order from home with Toast’s Online Ordering and our third-party delivery integrations. Meet your customers where they are and provide convenience that keeps them coming back, increasing customer loyalty and satisfaction.

  • Loyalty Rewards and Personalized Offers: Be your neighborhood's favorite shop (and incentivize repeat visits) with loyalty rewards and personalized offers. Transform one-time shoppers into loyal patrons by engaging with your community and offering enticing rewards, making your store the go-to destination for your customers.

In conclusion, Toast's retail solution is more than just a point of sale system; it's a comprehensive toolkit designed to elevate your retail store to new heights. From modernizing sales processes to streamlining management and enhancing the customer experience, Toast empowers retail businesses to thrive in today's competitive market.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.