Tony da Costa – Liquor City Claremont

A Beverage Industry Podcast with Holger Meier

Listen to Tony da Costa owner of Liquor City Claremont, one of my favourite speciality liquor stores in South Africa. Tony does so much of what we stand for and teach at DrinksBiz.

Tony da Costa opened his little Liquor City Claremont and an OK store only 7 years ago. From the beginning Tony focused on service and on being different. Tony’s team has a tremendous amount of product knowledge and always try use their knowledge to help and up-sell their customers. From the start Tony did not want a typical Liquor Store to compete with Chain Stores, he wanted something different. When asked if anyone can copy this concept, Tony thinks he is lucky to be in a good area, but everyone can make a success by being different and supporting smaller brands. BUT it is not easy. It is a FULL TIME business placing orders and find new brands. The bottle store does 2.5 times the turnover of a supermarket. Tony has 3 people who are employed to place the 300 – 400 orders every week. 40% of Tony’s turnover is from wine.

Tips for a good wine business: Keep lots of stock!

Tony has a whisky club, with about 100 members, that meets once a month. Where a brand ambassadors present products. A Gin club is next on the cards.

Beer about 43% is craft and import and the rest Heineken and SAB in Rand value. He does promote the smaller brands by giving less exposure and space to them.

Liquor City Claremont is a destinations store and customers travel from all over to visit the store. People will travel if you offer good service and a good selection. Tony spends a lot of time in the store himself.

Tony meets with his team once a week to discuss the business and train them about new products.

Tony has noticed that all the chains are reducing their craft beer selection so he is increasing his range of local craft and imported beer. Canned Craft beer is working very well. Rob Heyns has started a mobile canning operation, Tiny Keg, that is supplying many exciting new beers in cans.

Tony has a massive selection of 500 whiskies. Tony makes sure his knowledge of whisky is better than other retailers.