Carl?s Liquor brought up to date by new owners
Doug Brandt and Scott Krause purchased Carl’s Liquor, N2191 County Rd. K, Merrill, last September. The store had been owned by Doug’s parents since the mid-1990s.
Brandt and Krause have worked together at the Merrill Fire Department for many years.
Doug’s father bought Carl’s Liquor around 1995. After he passed away, Doug’s mother continued to operate the liquor store. However, last year, at the age of 80, she decided it was time to sell the building and the store.
Doug and Scott had talked about starting a business together, but hadn’t considered a liquor store until Doug’s mom said she was ready to sell.
Over the past year, Brandt and Krause have been busy updating the building. Through the Focus on Energy program, they replaced all the overhead lighting with more efficient bulbs. They expect to save about $1,000 a year on their electric bills. A brand new furnace has also been installed.
“The new furnace paid off big time,” Doug said. “Our heating bill is unbelievably low compared to what it was.”
The business sign along County Rd. K, which had been dark for years, is now relit with panels for Carl’s Liquor and the attached Josepha’s Salon.
Additional projects include new cooler doors and better insulation in the walls. Those changes have increased efficiency and save on utility costs. The walk-in beer cooler is now about twice as big as it was, with a new compressor and evaporators that greatly increase efficiency.
The layout of the sales floor has been completely rearranged, with the counter moving from the east wall to the north wall. Moving the counter opened up windows at the front of the store that had been obstructed for years. The wine racks were relocated to where the counter used to be. New windows were also installed on the north side of the building.
“This is a much more efficient layout,” Doug said. “It makes it easier for our employees to serve the customers better.”
Doug’s son-in-law, John Benedict, manages the store, bringing experience in retail and management.
The new owners also retained long-time Carl’s Liquor employees Bernie Frick and Denny English.
Carl’s Liquor was started by Tom Carl in the early 1960s. Under the original ownership, a warehouse was built so the store could purchase large quantities of liquor. When Doug’s parents originally purchased the store, they decided they didn’t need to warehouse and converted it into a hair salon. Doug’s wife, Noreen, owned and operated the salon until she sold it to Josie Countryman four years ago who relocated her business, Josepha’s, into the space. Noreen and their daughter Hailey still work at the salon.
The new owners have rebuilt the store’s stock to offer a wide variety of liquor, beer and wine.
Carl’s Liquor is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday. The only day of the year they will be closed is Christmas. The business can be reached at 715-536-7700.