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'Disneyland of Liquor Stores:' Wine, Beer and Spirits a fun experience, manager says

How big is the selection at Wine, Beer and Spirits?

“We’ve got over 3,700 different bottles of wine,” says Matt Ginger, a department manager.

The store has more than 440 types of craft beers, says general manager Stacie Williams.

The inventory fills up a very large space. Wine, Beer and Spirits occupies the old Gordmans store in the Eagle Run Shopping Center, which totals 54,000 square feet.

An unusual feature of Wine, Beer and Spirits is an actual, full-service bar. You can sit down and have whatever beverage you desire. Or you can sip a drink while you shop.

The bar closes 15 minutes before the store does.

To find another liquor store with an inventory this big, Ginger says, you’d have to go to Lincoln. That’s the home of another Wine, Beer, and Spirits store.

Omaha also has a Wine, Beer and Spirits location. Beau Starkel of Omaha is the main owner of all three.

What kind of beverages can you find at the store?

“What kind do you like to drink? Name it. We’ve got it,” Ginger said.

What drinks don’t they have?

“Anything that’s not available in Nebraska,” he said.

The store, which opened Aug. 26, tries hard to welcome each customer.

“Wine, Beer and Spirits is a place where the moment you walk in, you’re wowed with the selection and how big of a store it is,” Ginger said. “You come in and you’re greeted by one of our bartenders or one of our greeters, to create a friendly atmosphere, ask if you need anything. We’ve got a very knowledgeable staff. So feel free to ask questions whenever you need (to). We’ll be able to answer it for you.”

It's the policy of Wine, Beer and Spirits is to approach all customers and ask if they need anything.

“If we’re not doing that, we’re not doing our job,” Williams said.

Williams used to work in the liquor department at Hy-Vee and at Tommy Gunz. She says Wine, Beer and Spirits has the best selection in town “hands-down.”

“We have more access to more distributors,” said Williams, who’s proud of the craft beer selection.

The store sells imported and California wine, as well as locally grown products..

Wine, Beer and Spirits has 15 employees, who wear T-shirts that say “I work here.”

Wearing those shirts began at the Omaha store. The employees and distributors were working in the store in their street clothes. Customers were asking other customers to help them find something. So the “I work here” T-shirts were a good solution.

Ginger, an Omaha native, is in charge of the bar and wine department at the Grand Island store.

“I’ve been with the company for just over a year. I got hired on as a cashier and in less than a year I came out here to help run this store,” he said.

Ginger says Wine, Beer and Spirits is a happy and friendly place.

He describes it as “the Disneyland of liquor stores.” He’s heard the store called a liquor carnival. It might also be called “my happy place,” he said.

Shoppers will notice a lot of fun elements around the store, many of them provided by beer and liquor companies.

Customers can sit down and play electronic games provided by Funambulist Gaming, a Nebraska company.

You can also see a number of slogans on the wall. One describes the business as the place “where frugal meets fierce.” Others say, “Your wallet will thank you” and the store provides “sticker shock in a good way.”

Williams invites people to come check out the store just to look around.

With Halloween approaching, it’s a good time to investigate spirits.

Some people come in the store on their lunch break just to browse, Ginger said.

Last weekend, Wine, Beer and Spirits hosted a local food vendor who set up in the parking lot. More of that is expected. Williams and Ginger have talked about bringing in a farmers’ market next summer.

As for now, “We’re going to start selling hot dogs,” she said.

On weekends, free samples of wine and beer are handed out.

Befitting a store with a lot of inventory and a lot of employees, the people at Wine, Beer, and Spirits work hard, Williams said.

“But the bottom line is we have a lot of fun here, and we make it a fun experience for the customers,” she said. That’s “what makes them want to come in and that’s what makes them want to come back.”

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