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If you are passionate about good wine and people and want to be your own boss, you may want to open a liquor store. Liquor stores are subject to various laws, aimed at making the sale and consumption of alcohol safe. Knowing the laws that apply to the sale of liquor before opening a liquor store will make the process easier, and will prevent the possibility of receiving any fines. This article sets out six things to consider before opening a liquor store.

1. Location

When preparing to open your liquor store, consider the possible locations. The location of your liquor store will significantly affect your target market. Consider the local demographics and competitors in the possible locations.

For example, if you decide to set up your liquor store in a high-income suburb, you will likely be stocking expensive, good quality liquor. You should also think about placing your bottle shop near complementary businesses. Finding premises that are surrounded by BYO restaurants is likely to bring in more customers.

In addition to choosing a commercially sound location, you should consider local regulations that may affect the licensing of liquor stores. Councils can set restrictions on how specific land is to be used. For example, in New South Wales (NSW) there is a liquor licence freeze in Kings Cross and the Sydney CBD. This freeze prevents stores in these locations from acquiring specific liquor licences until June 2019.

2. Leasing

When you find the right location and premises for your liquor store, you will likely enter into a leasing agreement with the landlord. It is important that you carefully review the leasing agreement before signing it. Leasing agreements are often generic contracts, so it is important that you consider whether clauses specific to your circumstances are included in, or excluded from, the document.

You should also consider any relevant legislation that may affect your leasing agreement and have a leasing lawyer review your lease before signing it.

3. Licences and Permits

To open a liquor store, you will need to get a licence to sell alcohol. The type of permit required will vary from state to state.

In NSW, you will need to apply for a packaged liquor licence. This licence allows you to sell alcohol to people who will consume the alcohol away from your premises between the hours of:

  • 5am to 11pm from Monday to Saturday; and
  • 10am to 10pm on Sunday.

If you wish to sell alcohol outside of those hours, you can apply for an extended trading authorisation.

4. Trading Restrictions

Under the Liquor Act and the Retail Trading Act, liquor stores are subject to trading restrictions. Liquor stores cannot trade on the following days:

  • Good Friday;
  • Easter Sunday;
  • Before 1pm on ANZAC Day;
  • Christmas Day; and
  • Boxing Day.

You may be able to trade on restricted trading days, other than Good Friday and Christmas Day, if your bottle shop is:

  • located in a nominated tourist zone; or
  • has less than four regular employees and less than two owners.

Exemptions to trade on restricted trading days can also be granted if it is in the public’s best interest for your store to trade on that day.

5. Hiring Staff

Before opening your bottle shop, determine the amount of staff you need to operate the store successfully. You can consider hiring staff on a full-time, part-time or a casual basis.

Full-time and part-time staff members are entitled to paid annual leave and sick leave. They can also expect ongoing employment and similar hours every week. Casual staff members are not entitled to the same benefits. However, they must be paid a ‘casual loading’ fee per hour. Your staff will need to be over the age of 18 and have a current responsible service of alcohol (RSA) certificate.

6. Advertising

To establish a customer base, it is a good idea to advertise your shop. However, you should be aware that strict regulations apply to advertisements relating to the consumption of alcohol.

It is important that you become familiar with these restrictions before advertising your liquor store. The following table contains examples of negative portrayals of alcohol that are against the public’s best interest and therefore forbidden.

Guideline Example
Advertisement cannot have an appeal to minors or encourage underage drinking. Using cartoon characters that are appealing to children in the advertisement.
Advertisement cannot be indecent or offensive. Using insulting language in promotional material.
Advertisement cannot involve excessive consumption of alcohol. Depicting a person drinking a bottle of wine by themselves.
Advertisement cannot suggest irresponsible drinking. Using the catchphrase “drink till you drop”.

Key Takeaways

When opening a liquor store, you must consider both commercial and regulatory factors that may affect your business. To ensure the responsible consumption of alcohol, the sale of liquor is a heavily regulated area. It is important that you comply with regulations from the start. Before opening your liquor store, consider the:

  1. possible locations;
  2. leasing agreement you may need to enter into;
  3. required licences and permits you need to obtain;
  4. what restrictions apply to the area you operate in;
  5. hiring staff; and
  6. advertisement guidelines that you must follow.

If you have any questions, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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