Cox’s Spirit Shoppe and Evergreen Liquors is now the largest independently owned local retailer of liquor, wine and spirits in all of Kentucky. Billy Grantz, who was born and raised in Louisville, started the company in 1995 as a smoke shop. He purchased his first liquor shop two years later and ever since, both have continued to grow under the Cox’s Spirit Shoppe umbrella.
In 2020, Grantz sold off to his employees, making the business 100% employee-owned. Over time, the continual growth has been tremendous. In the past year alone, they have added six stores. They now have 18 Cox’s locations and four Evergreen Liquors. There is a Cox’s and Evergreen Liquors in St. Matthew’s, a Cox’s and Evergreen Liquors in Middletown, and two Cox’s in Jtown.
It’s dubbed “Louisville’s Neighborhood Liquor Store” because the feel of the store is driven by the neighborhood in which it sits. Therefore, not every Cox’s looks identical. The same is true for Evergreen Liquors.
“Each will have a different product mix based on the clientele and the customers from that neighborhood,” says Mike Fisk, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer. “We try to strategize our product mix and marketing to each individual neighborhood.”
They get input and requests from customers, many of whom frequent the store multiple times a week. Being neighborhood-driven is what sets them apart from the big box stores who throw out everything to see what sticks rather than narrowing in on specifically what customers in each area wants. At the same time, they are large enough to compete with the big box stores when it comes to prices. In fact, from a price perspective, their retail is competitive, if not under their competition, across the board.
A fun perk for customers: Evergreen Liquors offers bourbon tastings at four of their locations, giving folks a chance to taste hard to find bourbons like Van Winkle, Blanton’s and other bottles that are hard to come by.
“I’d say we have better customer service than 99%o of the stores out there,” says Fisk. “Not only that but our locations are always clean and organized.”
Cox’s Spirit Shoppe and Evergreen Liquors is also committed to regularly partnering with different organizations in order to give back to the community.
“Throughout the year we do three or four large charity-driven foundation programs,” says Fisk. “My biggest push is to make sure the money stays as local as possible.”
For instance, they recently raised $50K for the Kentucky Humane Society by raffling off a set of bottles of the Pappy Van Winkle bourbons. Next up they are partnering with the Cabbage Patch Settlement House, Inc., which equips and empowers at-risk children, youth and their families. Following that, they are raising money for the Louisville Metro Police Foundation training facilities.
“The nice thing about what we do as a business is that we have access to a lot of bourbon,” says Fisk with a chuckle. “In this city, it’s kind of crazy what bourbon can do!”
More than anything, Fisk maintains that they want to be an asset to the community.
“We try to find ways to assist other companies and industries,” says Fisk, a member of the Independent Business Alliance. “I know that the stronger your business community is, the stronger everybody’s businesses are so I support them all.”