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New store sells local, organic wines

Jon Schroeder left, and Kisten Kimmes, owners of DeVine Liquors stand in front of the wine section of their store. They plan to make wine the focus there, and add as many local wines to the selection as possible. <i>Gretta Stark photo</i>

Rush hour is the busiest time of day for Kristen Kimmes and Jon Schroeder as commuters stop by on their way home from work to pick up some beer, a bottle of wine, or other products offered by them in their new store DeVine Liquors, 703B N. Main St.

River Falls residents Kimmes and Schroeder said they had often wished there was a liquor store closer to their end of town.

"We noticed that other people were saying the same thing, and we just kind of figured maybe we should do it before someone else does," said Schroeder.

So, Schroeder and Kimmes did research. They read magazines about wine, beer and liquors. They looked up laws.

Kimmes, who works for the Minnesota Department of Revenue, said her job had taught her about the tax laws that pertain to liquor stores, but she and Schroeder worked with the city of River Falls to make sure they were also following all the proper local laws pertaining to the sale of liquor.

The most valuable resource, said Schroeder, was other liquor store owners, because they were able to give Kimmes and Schroeder the benefit of their experience.

But Schroeder said he and Kimmes had to drive into Minnesota, and deeper into Wisconsin, to find liquor store owners who were willing to talk to them.

"It's hard to find a liquor store that actually wants to talk to you about being a liquor store because it's a competitive market," said Schroeder.

After five weeks of preparation, DeVine Liquors opened Tuesday, June 21.

The best-selling products so far, Kimmes and Schroeder say, are Ménage á Trois and Fisheye Moscotto wines, and Rush River beer.

DeVine Liquors also sells organic wine, flavored vodka, tequila, rum, cognac, whiskey, scotch, non-alcoholics like drink mixers, and a few other items like potato chips and beef jerky, because customers requested them.

Kimmes and Schroeder said they are trying to customize their stock to fit what the customers want.

"We know what we like, but everyone in the town drinks their own drink, so you have to learn what everyone in the town is drinking," said Schroeder.

If customer don't find what they're looking for at DeVine Liquors, Kimmes and Schroeder said they will try to find that item and add it to their selection.

Kimmes and Schroeder said they also want to have a section of locally produced alcohol. So far their selection includes Rush River beer, made in River Falls, and Maiden Wines, from a vineyard in Maiden Rock in Pierce County.

The best part of owning a liquor store, Kimmes said, is meeting people.

"I like interacting with the customers and seeing what their favorite kinds of liquor, wine or beer are," said Kimmes.

"We both live in town but we're getting to meet so many people that are in town. That's kind of fun," said Schroeder.

DeVine Liquor will not have a float in the River Falls Days Parade this year, but Kimmes and Schroeder said they will be making one next year.

In addition to wines, beers and liquors, DeVine Liquor sells cigarettes and tobacco products.

It will also begin selling lottery tickets within the next two weeks.

DeVine Liquors is open 8 a.m. to midnight daily. Call 715-426-7560.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(715) 426-1048