How to Start a Liquor Store Business in Texas

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Liquor store owners must adhere to strict licensing procedures before opening a store in Texas.
Liquor store owners must adhere to strict licensing procedures before opening a store in Texas. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Because of licensing codes and guidelines, opening a liquor store in Texas is a little more complicated than opening other types of retail stores. New liquor store owners must deal with the usual concerns of start-up businesses while also ensuring that their approach meets all criteria to receive an initial liquor retailer’s license from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, or TABC. In addition to specific licensing, liquor stores are subject to all other restrictions and rules placed on retailers by the state.

Things You'll Need

  • Bond money
  • Licensing fees

Develop a business plan for your liquor store. This plan plots expenditures and income for your business, from start-up phases to your store’s maturity. These projections will help you determine if you’re meeting sales goals and will also be necessary if you plan to secure financing.

Establish a business by registering as a corporation, sole proprietorship or partnership. Secure a federal employer identification number from the Internal Revenue Service and a sales tax permit from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Find a suitable location, preferably one in a high-traffic area. Locations farther than 1,000 feet from a public school must be bonded for $5,000, while those closer must be bonded for $5,000. A matter of a few blocks may make a large difference in your start-up costs.

Sign a lease for your chosen location. If possible, make the lease contingent upon receiving a liquor license.

Schedule a pre-licensing interview with the TABC. You, your partners and other investors should be present at the interview, which will outline your responsibilities as a liquor retailer while explaining and providing materials necessary to your application.

Post provided notices prominently in the windows of the location for 60 days before receiving your liquor license, if the location hasn’t sold liquor for the past two years. This 60-day sign must be prominently displayed so it notifies the public about the upcoming licensing hearing. At this time, arrange for inspectors from the TABC to inspect the location, as required by law.

Obtain a small-business loan or other financing if necessary. Most lenders will require you to present your business plan so they can be certain you’re not likely to default on your investment.

Pay fees and other charges necessary to obtain a liquor license. In Dallas, Harris and Tarrant counties, total fees amount to $2,470 for retailers, as of 2011. In all other counties, fees total $820.

Locate a suitable beer, wine and liquor distributor to serve your store. Larger companies, such as the major breweries, may handle their own distribution rather than working through a third party, so you may need to work with several vendors. Distributors can be located online or in the phone book under "alcoholic beverage distributors."

Attend a licensing hearing at your county courthouse. Your application must be approved in court, and members of the public are allowed to raise objections to the licensing at this time.

Contact your chosen distributors and place your initial orders. Many distributors may be able to guide first-time orders to ensure you select a variety of brands that are most likely to sell.

Stock your store and open it for business.

Tips & Warnings

  • Because the application process is long, plan to wait several months before you receive your liquor retailer's license.

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