A rare opportunity
Despite the similarity in name, liquor shop Corkscrew Johnny’s is not named after current owner Jonathan Kerkian. Based in Richfield, Ohio, a suburb about halfway between Cleveland and Akron, the store gets its name from one of its original owners who was “my dad’s partner in the business,” explains Johnathan. Today, it’s just a lucky coincidence.
Jonathan took over Corkscrew Johnny’s in 2011, after serving in the National Guard. It was a rare opportunity, since liquor stores in Ohio are contract-based, with only so many government contracts available. “It can be a very lucrative contract,” Jonathan explained. “Ohio limits the amount of liquor licenses per population in an area. So it’s a very rare opportunity because alcohol retailers can’t just open up stores next to you willy-nilly.”
A selection for everyone
Since retail liquor licenses are hard to come by, Jonathan’s customers are essentially everyone in the surrounding area—and even people passing through. “We’re located right off a major interstate so we get all kinds of people coming in. Truckers, businessmen on their way home from work, as well as people from the neighborhood,” he explained. “We also recently got into providing the alcohol for weddings, which is new for us.”
To meet the demands of such a diverse clientele, Corkscrew Johnny’s offers a wide variety of beverages. Spirits make up most of their sales, with beer and wine tied for a close second. “Vodka is definitely our biggest seller,” Jonathan shared. “Bourbons are also very popular right now, and we’re seeing spiked seltzers becoming the next big thing. During the pandemic, boxed wine also became really popular. Today, they have varieties for every flavor of boxed wine that you can think of!” he laughs.
Too many online sales
What really makes Corkscrew Johnny’s stand out is their commitment to e-commerce. The store has long used their website as a vehicle to drive sales, using their own team to complete local deliveries.
COVID-19 made all of this more difficult, but for a good reason. “During the pandemic, the challenge of e-commerce and delivery skyrocketed,” he explained. “It was a good problem: we didn’t have the resources to really handle all the orders we were getting.”
In late 2020, when DoorDash began offering alcohol delivery, Johnathan was contacted by a DoorDash account representative and quickly signed up. “Our website did a little business here and there, but third party apps bring us a lot more business because their marketing reach is better than ours. We only reach our local area, while people know about platforms like DoorDash everywhere,” Jonathan explained.
Plus, Jonathan liked the ease of handing off orders to Dashers for delivery. He explained, “We were pretty taxed with having to send people out for deliveries. Having the option to have Dashers come in and pick up the orders without any further management from me has been really helpful. With DoorDash for alcohol delivery, we don’t need to hire more people. We just need one person to look at the tablet, pack the order, and off it goes.”
It took about a week to onboard to DoorDash. Once I got the tablet, we were off.
The power of a strong team
Now, Jonathan is grateful for what he learned during the pandemic ordering rush. He explained, “We were stretched to our limit and that really made us better for the long run. I’m proud of what we did and the connections we made in order to handle the volume of orders.” He’s especially glad to have a great team by his side, and credits a lot of his success to their support. “They let me do my job because they do their jobs so well.”
Today, DoorDash sales account for 30% of all of Corkscrew Johnny’s online alcohol sales, and Jonathan has seen his profit margins increase by 15% since joining the platform. “DoorDash helps us add profit to the business,” Jonathan explained. “It’s revenue we wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
What’s next for Corkscrew Johnny’s? According to Jonathan, it’s looking for a new liquor store license to take over when the time is right — and continuing to get the word out about alcohol delivery. “A lot of people don’t know that you can get alcohol delivered, but it’s almost as easy as getting a meal delivered. And I use DoorDash all the time…perhaps too much,” Jonathan smiles.