Starting your own liquor store in Texas is not as simple as opening another kind of retail outlet. Liquor stores have their own set of specific licensing regulations in addition to all the restrictions that the state places on any retailer. You have to follow all the rules for starting a retail business, and at the same time, you must satisfy the requirements for obtaining a Texas liquor license from the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC).
The First Steps Toward Starting a Texas Liquor Store
First of all, you need to draw up a business plan for the liquor store that will calculate your expenses and the income you expect to generate from your sales. This would include all the steps from start-up to when your store is established. That way, you and any financial institutions from which you may seek financing can see if your sales projections are being met.
When you register your new business as a partnership, sole proprietorship or corporation, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will issue you a federal employer identification number. The next step before acquiring your Houston liquor license is to obtain a sales tax permit from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
One of the most important decisions you can make when starting any retail outlet is the location. A liquor store depends on regular customers as well as walk-ins, so finding a high-traffic area can really make or break your store. If your store is within 1,000 feet of a public school, you will have to obtain a $10,000 bond. If it is farther than 1,000 feet, you only need a $5,000 bond. Therefore, your proximity to a any school can have a significant effect on your start-up expenses.
Once you have found your location, get a lease for the property. Before moving in, try to make the lease dependent on whether you can secure your liquor license.
Obtaining Your Liquor License
To start your own liquor store in Texas, you need to contact the TABC to set up a pre-licensing interview. Your partners, you and any potential investors must be present at the meeting. Your responsibilities will be explained, and you will receive the instructions and forms you need to apply for your license. A Texas licensing service can be a great help during this process.
You must post the notices that the TABC will provide in the window of your store for 60 days prior to receiving your liquor license if the storefront has not been used for selling liquor for the previous two years. These signs must be displayed prominently to notify the public of your pending hearing for your liquor license. Then, you can schedule an inspection of your location with the TABC.
At this point, you should get a small-business loan or some other type of financing if you cannot fund the store on your own. You must show the lender your business plan so that they can feel comfortable that your plan is solid, and you will not default on their loan.
The fees for obtaining a liquor license in the Texas can vary so getting the help of a Texas licensing service can help alleviate confusion and these experts take care of the paperwork and filing. Once you have paid for your license, you need to find a good beer, wine and liquor distributor to stock your store. This may require working with a few vendors because some of the larger breweries prefer to distribute their products themselves.
Then, you will have a hearing at the county courthouse to determine if you can receive a liquor license. Local citizens may protest your location or suitability.
Once you have been approved for your license, place your first order with your distributors. The final step is to open your store and to begin conducting business.