Offering a wide variety of spirits
by Mark H. Stowers
The Bolivar Bullet
Owner John Paul Alford grew up in Kosciusko and was previously in the dry cleaner business. His first liquor store was located in Attala County.
“It was called The Hive Wine and Spirits which we opened in 2014,” said Alford.
The state only allows one liquor store per owner, but Alford new there was a lot of opportunity out there. After researching the state, he decided to move to Cleveland with his wife and four children to pursue the opportunity to open a larger store. In September of 2021, Alford and his wife, Jane, opened Whole Cellars Package Store in Cleveland.
“There are about 650 liquor stores in the state and the ABC Liquor Commission releases a ranking each year,” he said.
After going through the information and putting it all in an Excel spreadsheet, Alford determined that Cleveland was the spot to open a new store.
“I built my store as big as I could in Kosciusko and we were ranked 29 in the state,” he said. “I really wanted to try and get to number one. We came to Cleveland, visited and loved the town and decided it was a great place to live and raise a family and sell liquor in the meantime.”
When COVID hit, the state’s warehouse used to have a system where orders placed on Monday were filled on Tuesday. But, then that became a 26-day wait period. Alford put his skills of inventory management together in Cleveland and he works hard to stay completely stocked on everything.
“We do work hard, but things have not gotten better after COVID, if anything, it has gotten worse in regards of turn-around on product,” said Alford.
Wholesale offers discount and bulk pricing and special sale days such as Tequila Tuesdays with 10% off of Tequila, Wine Wednesdays with 15% off all wine and weekend specials.
“We started whole case specials as well. We have 2,600 different bottles of product. At my old store, we had about 1,200,” he said. “We are about to do a little more renovation this year to manage more of our back stock and have more shelving in the store.”
The retail section of the store is 3,600 square feet of the 8,400 square foot building.
“We have room to grown and we strategically planned it that way,” he said.
The business has ten employees, both full and part time.
“We have a good staff and most of them work or are in school at Delta State,” said Alford.“We have a friendly crew and we want it to be an experience when you come in the store. You get greeted and we have employees on the floor to hand sell to customers. We make it a whole experience.”