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Four Years After Launch, Molly’s Spirits Is A Major Player On The Colorado Retail Landscape

January 25, 2019

Since opening in December of 2014 in the Denver suburb of Lakeside, Molly’s Spirits has rapidly developed into a retail destination. In 2015, the store’s first full year of operation, Molly’s grossed $10 million. By the end of last year, annual revenues had more than doubled to $23 million.

Molly’s managing partner Rufus Nagel started the business after working in commercial real estate for a decade. Before that, he had been part of a Silicon Valley tech startup. His store totals 28,000 square feet of retail space, including a tasting bar. Technology pervades the entire space, with 19 screens and MarginMate electronic shelf labeling, whose data-gathering technology often helps shape the store’s shelf layouts.

Spirits, at 3,000 SKUs, account for 34% of sales at Molly’s. The store offers 900 American whiskies, 325 of which are Bourbons. Scotch whisky comprises 400 SKUs, and 75% of those are single malts. Colorado whiskies perform strongly, with Colorado-made spirits overall totaling 250 SKUs, accounting for 10% of total spirits volume. Through his relationships with Colorado distillers, Nagel procures barrel exclusives from local craft players like Feisty Distillery, whose cask-strength barrel exclusive is labeled as Feisty Molly ($50).

Wine comprises 37% of sales at Molly’s, with 7,000 total SKUs. Matua Sauvignon Blanc ($10 a 750-ml.) is the top-selling wine by volume and revenue. Beer, with 6,000 SKUs, accounts for 27% of sales. While Coors and Bud Light (both $18 a 24-pack of 12-ounce cans) are still the top-selling brands, Colorado craft beer is the strongest overall category by a wide margin. Molly’s Sip of Colorado ($6 a 6-pack of 12-ounce cans) is a big seller.

Nagel attributes Molly’s success to recognizing that in the era of e-commerce and delivery, millennial consumers crave interactive shopping experiences. “They won’t go to their corner store unless it offers something interesting and fun,” he says. “The future of in-person retailing is experiential.”

The Molly’s marketing strategy is similarly in tune with millennial shoppers. Molly’s partners with organizations to sponsor events, while also connecting with customers through social media, differentiated email lists, and a loyalty program. “Gone are the days of 30-second TV spots or newspaper ads that reach 70% of the community,” says Nagel. “Today you need to address dozens of smaller communities—and reach them in meaningful ways.”—Angel Antin

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