Customers poured in to liquor stores across the state of Minnesota on Sunday, July 2 and Edina was no exception.
Thanks to state legislation in the last session, for the first time in just under a century, Minnesotans were able to purchase liquor legally on a Sunday.
But for the transition to be successful, behind the scenes work has been happening for months since the legislation passed.
Josh Furbish started as the general manager of liquor operations in late December.
“It has been outstanding so far,” Furbish said. “No doubt about it, it is a different industry from what I did before. At times it is like drinking water from a fire house. But between the wealth of knowledge of staff, with over 100 years of combined knowledge, and the work from the Liquor Taskforce, I knew where my eyes needed to be on day one.”
Furbish grew up in Lake of the Woods in a town of about 1,100 people.
“The second I turned 18, I ran as far and as fast as I could,” Furbish said.
He went to college for marketing and business management, and shortly after he was managing retail units with businesses like Menards.
Later he spent time in the wireless world, managing multiple locations for T Mobile. But years later when he saw the opening for the position at Edina Liquor, he knew it felt right.
“Living on a plane wasn’t for me anymore,” Furbish said. “When this opportunity opened up, … [I could] use some of my entrepreneurial spirits and business acumen, but with the message of helping the community.”
Years ago when he was just a consumer with no idea he would join the world of managing liquor stores, Furbish knew there was excitement behind lifting the prohibition on Sunday liquor sales in Minnesota, which for years was rejected at the state legislature.
But with the legislation once again looming, this time with a bigger push, Furbish had the Sunday liquor dilemma in the back of his mind during his job interviews.
“It certainly was no secret, and Edina wasn’t alone – a lot of municipalities weren’t excited for [Sunday liquor sales],” Furbish said. “But we are excited about it. My staff are all about it and adding an additional level of convenience to our customers.”
Furbish said that operationally there were some challenges to sort through, but that the biggest driver is getting people to understand the importance of shopping locally.
This includes not only serving the community at large but boosting the relationship with local craft breweries, distilleries and other vendors.
The focus on local flare is just one of the many aspects Furbish hopes to emphasise to combat the creep of big box liquor stores in the surrounding suburbs.
“The biggest thing I have heard when I ask our customers what drew them back … always comes down to our staff and our customer experience,” Furbish said. “They do feel that there is more of a connection than maybe going into a Total Wine.”
Furbish also has a goal of enacting home delivery with it being fully manned by Edina Liquor staff.
The home delivery is envisioned to be an extension of the store experience, catering to those who don’t necessarily want to physically come in every week or whatever their routine may be.
But Edina Liquor also wants to be able to work with people who might find going online and ordering a scary ordeal.
The original testing date was in March, but Furbish decided to slow down and not rush the roll out. He hopes to have it off the ground in 2017.
“We want to make sure we are rolling that out in a timely manner, but also that we are doing it at the right time,” Furbish said.
Contact Ethan Groothuis at [email protected]