How to Open a Liquor Store in Florida

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Starting a liquor store in Florida requires a number of permits.
Starting a liquor store in Florida requires a number of permits. (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Opening a liquor store can be a very involved process, but one that can potentially yield excellent returns. Alcohol sales tend to be recession-proof, so even during economic hard times, profits can flourish. When starting a liquor store in Florida, there are a number of state and local permits you need to file for. Once you have a business plan and financing, there are a number of steps to take in order to launch your liquor store.

Register your business with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations. Even if you plan to run your business as a sole proprietorship, you still need to file a fictitious name registration form, also referred to as a DBA (Doing Business As). Also file form SS-4 with the IRS to obtain your employer identification number.

File for an alcoholic beverage license with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The specific license you need will depend on what beverages you plan to sell. You can apply for this license online at the department's website.

Complete Form DR-1 and submit it to the Florida Department of Revenue. You can also file this form online at the Department of Revenue's website. This registers your business so you can legally collect sales tax.

Lease a location for your liquor store. Try to pick a space that is in a high-traffic area and easy to get to. The store should have enough space for a retail area as well as a storage space for inventory. A commercial real estate agent can help you find a suitable space that is within your budget.

Contact the local city hall where your store is located. Ask if they require any additional business registrations, licenses or tax certificates.

Purchase a point of sales (POS) system for your store. This will allow you to take payments and process credit and debit transactions. There are a number of companies that specialize in these systems, and they can help you determine what system will fulfill your needs.

Purchase your inventory from beer, wine and liquor distributors that are licensed in Florida. You can obtain a list of licensed wholesalers from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Tips & Warnings

  • Contact a number of different wholesalers to obtain the best prices for lesser-known and generic brands.
  • For some well-known brands, you may only have one option, as wholesalers often maintain exclusive distribution deals.

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