A student walks into a liquor store, sees 300 cases of a new beer deal and texts all his buddies about it.
That’s how Dinkytown Wine and Spirits gets its business. The store has always relied on word of mouth, spending $800 or less on advertising in a year, owner Irv Hershkovitz said.
That’s not unusual for Dinkytown businesses.
“I know a lot of businesses rely on word of mouth,” said Skott Johnson, president of the Dinkytown Business Association. Johnson said that strategy allows businesses to track their customer base, while it’s not always clear how many customers came in because of an advertisement.
There are only two liquor stores in close proximity to the University of Minnesota — Hershkovitz’s store in Dinkytown and Valu Liquors in Stadium Village. But that doesn’t mean they have a constantly captive audience, Hershkovitz said.
Wine and Spirits has been in Dinkytown since 1990. Before that, Hershkovitz owned two bars. Since the time he opened the liquor store, beer prices have gone up, bringing down sales. Six years ago, beer made up nearly 75 percent of sales. Now, it’s less than half.
“Every kid on campus has a car now,” said Hershkovitz.
Hershkovitz said students call around to find the cheapest beer and drive to get it at other stores, going to places like Sam’s Club instead of the liquor store.
“They come here because we have deals,” he said.
Spring Jam weekend brought in sales 20 or 25 percent higher than the last few months. The numbers are comparable to Homecoming, Halloween and the first weekends of the academic year when students are out “meeting each other and partying,” Hershkovitz said.
Sales don’t just go to students, though. Neighborhood residents shop at the liquor store as well as parents of University students.
Hershkovitz said he has seen students text their parents about sales or picked up something for them.
He also sees customers who graduated from the University 20 years ago come back to the store for the deals.
When products are discontinued or sitting in a warehouse for a while, Hershkovitz can buy them cheap and sell them for less to his customers.
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