New Groupon-esque website offers liquor deals

The site includes multiple savings for local stores.

Megan Nicolai

Walking into his father-in-lawâÄôs liquor store, Duane Birchem saw nothing but signs.

âÄúI was blown away by how much advertising was in the store,âÄù he said.

Looking for an easier way to market the deals and discounts always taking place at liquor stores, the University of Minnesota alumnus launched his new online company two weeks ago.

Cliquorstore.com sends users a daily deal from a Twin Cities-based liquor store, which users can purchase online and redeem at the store. Visitors to the site can also search for their closest liquor store by zip code or city and search through store-specific discounts. They can narrow their search by setting alcohol preferences.

So far, the site includes deals for 260 stores and covers the entire Twin Cities area.

The website, which along with Birchem is managed by three former University students, allows liquor stores to advertise their deals on different liquors, and change them when the deals end. Discounts stay on the website for as long as the store owners want, Birchem said.

This sets the website apart from other marketing tools like Groupon.com, which only sends out one coupon a day with no guarantee of customer interest, Birchem said.

The opportunity to advertise each discount this way was a huge draw for Dan Ross, co-owner of Team Liquor in downtown Minneapolis.

âÄúIt gives the opportunity to try new things,âÄù Ross said. âÄúI like the ability to run constant offers.âÄù

John Bernstein, BirchemâÄôs father-in-law, was one of the first investors in Cliquorstore.com.

âÄúHeâÄôs very passionate about it,âÄù Bernstein said. âÄúI think heâÄôs really got something here.âÄù

Bernstein has run his liquor store, Valley Liquor in Shakopee, for more than 27 years. He said he planned to use the tool to bring completely new demographics into his store âÄî especially students.

Bernstein said people have already started coming in to claim the coupon they bought on the website. He said he hopes they spend more than just the discounted deal âÄî heâÄôs looking for multiple sales.

Ross said making a profit and competing with other stores is difficult with a product like alcohol.

The lack of profit makes it harder for local stores to compete with larger, âÄúbig boxâÄù stores, like SamâÄôs Club, Birchem said. But with his website, much of the pressure to advertise could be taken off of the store ownersâÄô shoulders, he said.

At the moment, Cliquorstore has 11 employees, and Birchem hopes to add more soon. But he said the company is trying to avoid growing too quickly and spreading too thin. For now, the site is locally focused, though the intention will always be to go national, Birchem said.

Some think they have a shot.

âÄúI think the idea is different enough that it could work if they get the right distribution and audience,âÄù Ross said.