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Distillery Locations-Do You Depend Upon Foot Traffic or Are You a Destination in Your Area?

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We are early in the start-up process and running into issues related to where to intelligently locate our business. We are in a location where we have a basic decision to make, based upon the factors I will explain.

In our unincorprated county areas, at this point, we can only sell our products to distributors and restaurants, but anticipate that may change in the no-too-distant future, where we can sell package and or by-the-drink. But not yet. We can only offer 1/2 ounce tastings right now. No package sales . No drinks. Our onsite retails sales will be limited basicaly to souvenirs.

Also in our unincorporated area of our county, we face an uphill (not impossible) battle against a 'religeous' county commission of three members. One who always oppose, one wo would not object, and one who might be persuaded to 'betray' his questioanble religeosity. But that is where our suppliers of fruit for brandy is located. We had hoped to locate and piggyback off the traffic that comes from the apple houses that are a huge tourist draw and gets agri-tourism considerations.

Our other option is the county seat municipality. They already have favorable ordinances and not subject to the county commissioners and I even have the blessing of the mayor (who incidentally owns the only beer and wine package store in town.) But the city allows tasting, liqour by the drink and some bottle sales (wine). The problem with this location is that it is so small that the properties we want are too close to a church or school, by state law. So we can't find a location that benefits from the walk in traffic of the tourists. But we can find locations that are not 'on the square' in our town. There is a limited number of these.

How important is walk-in versus 'destination' location of your distillery? Should we hold out for the 'perfect' in-town location?

I would appreciate any non-speculative, experience-based information anyone could share.

Much thanks!

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The problem with this location is that it is so small that the properties we want are too close to a church or school, by state law.

Get a variance on the dated blue law, and locate your business in the best location possible. If anyone gives you any s**t, remind them of the miracle that Jesus chose to reveal his divinity to the world:

Turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana.


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We have built ourselves up as a destination, but it's taken 3+ years to do enough business to really rely on and we're just outside a city with over 100K people and one mile off the interstate, we also hold music events during the summer where we'll have 500+ people out here on one saturday. IMHO, you need to make your plan to assume that retail business (if you can sell on site) is just gravy, plain and simple. With time, effort, and ideas that draw people in you can make money, but a few interested folks coming in due to initial media-related buzz is about as good as you should expect. With few examples (ie, "Ole Smoky" in Gatlinburg, a MAJOR tourist destination), there is no way to safely plan on retail traffic paying your bills unless you are simply very, very, very small with little to no debt. Think of it like this, how many restaurants have opened near you and it takes you months or even years to finally stop in and check it out? Now if you're not in a traffic spot where people walk or drive by day after day and they're constantly reminded that you're there, it may take a while for them to figure out you exist if you're "out of town."

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