Service and convenience a family tradition at spirited business

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Brandi Pollock still loves crunching numbers in her upstairs office — going over sales and budgets. But she loves, even more, the opportunity to slip downstairs and interact with customers.

“That’s my favorite part,” says Pollock, owner of Fisher’s Discount Liquor Barn in Grand Junction.

That part has kept Pollock working for more than 20 years in the business her father launched in 1980. In the more general sense of customer service provided by friendly and knowledgeable staff, that part also plays a crucial role in the continued success of the operation, she says. “I think the customer service is huge.”

Pollock oversees one of the largest retail liquor operations in the region with 50 employees and 28,000 square feet of space in an outlet that really is as big as a barn — a big barn at that.

Fisher’s Liquor Barn has gained recognition on an even larger scale. Beverage Dynamics magazine, a trade publication for alcohol beverage retailer, has named the business a Top 100 Retailer for the past two years.

Jeremy Nedelka, editor of the magazine, said owners are selected on the basis of how they care for their customers, employees and the communities in which they’re located. “They join some of the best and brightest in the industry and deserve the recognition they’ve received.”

In an increasingly competitive industry under constantly changing regulation, paying attention to the basics of business remains important, Pollock says.

She says that’s been the case since her father, Wayne Fisher, launched the operation in 1980 on the same property on which the family operated a dairy. The original 4,200-square-foot store was built on the site of the former family farm house.

The operation grew over the years and in 1998 moved into a new and bigger building constructed nearby. The building was enlarged in 2000 and again in 2007. A strip mall also was constructed behind Fisher’s Liquor Barn.

The mall includes Fisher’s Market, which sells meats, seafood and specialty foods. The two operations work well, Pollock says, in accommodating customers who want to pair wine, beer and other beverages with food.

While Fisher’s Liquor Barn isn’t the largest liquor retailer in Colorado, it remains the largest such family owned operation, Pollock says. “We kept it in the family.”

Pollock says she started working for her father when she was still in high school in first handling accounting and then assuming a growing role in managing the operation. She became majority owner about 12 years ago.

Pollock says her duties now include supporting the employees who in turn take care of customers. Employees bring considerable experience and expertise to their jobs, she says, in helping employees pick out products — whether that’s just the right wine to complement a meal or a new beer or whiskey. “The big thing is knowledge.”

Going by stock keeping units, the codes used to track inventory and sales, Fisher’s Liquor Barn sells more than 9,000 different products. That includes a large selection of Colorado wine, beer and spirits.

The inventory constantly changes, though. If products occupying shelf space don’t sell, they’re replaced by those that do, Pollock says. “Everything in this story has to pay its rent.”

Even as the basics remain the same, the retail liquor business has grown more challenging over the years, Pollock says. “It’s gotten harder and harder every year.”

There’s increased competition in online sales and, in Colorado, new rules enabling grocery stores to sell full-strength beer. There’s competition as well from the sale of recreational marijuana, she says.

Changing regulations present their own challenges, she says, including a rule requiring Colorado retailers to collect sales taxes at the hundreds of different rates assessed at the destinations of the products.

Pollock says Fisher’s Liquor Barn remains competitive in part by offering more convenience to customers. That includes curbside service at the store and delivery not only in the Grand Valley, but also other areas of Western Colorado “That part of our business has really grown a lot.”

Community involvement also has helped differentiate Fisher’s Liquor Barn, Pollock says. The business participates in golf tournaments and other events that raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for various causes. ”If we’re successful, we want to be able to help the people in our community as much as we can.”

Pollock continues to crunch numbers the same way she has for more than 20 years. But she also remains mindful of what’s going on downstairs and occasionally slips down there to join in the effort. “We’ve got to be there for our customers.”

Fisher’s Discount Liquor Barn is located at 2438 Patterson Road in Grand Junction. For more information, visit the website at https://fisherliquorbarn.com.