Family-owned liquor store tradition continues in Mounds View

Mounds View’s largest liquor store will host a grand opening celebration under new ownership.

The former Big Top Liquor is now operating as Merwin Liquors, another family-owned business.

Under new ownership, Merwin Liquors will host a grand opening celebration noon-3 p.m. Saturday, April 29 at their Mounds View location, 2577 Mounds View Blvd. (Sun Focus staff photo by Sarah Burghardt)
Under new ownership, Merwin Liquors will host a grand opening celebration noon-3 p.m. Saturday, April 29 at their Mounds View location, 2577 Mounds View Blvd. (Sun Focus staff photo by Sarah Burghardt)

Changing hands in October, Merwin Liquors opened their fifth store in Mounds View. Other locations include Brooklyn Park, North Minneapolis, Maplewood and Falcon Heights.

Merwin owners Thomas Cohen and Stuart Tapper said they jumped at the chance to take over the Mounds View location. Both are family friends with the family who owns Big Top Liquor, the Applebaums.

An important aspect of the liquor store was to continue its tradition of being family-owned and operated.

“I think that you can tell in every Big Top that its a family-run store,” Cohen said. “They take a lot of pride in that, and we do as well.”

Cohen said when they decided to take on the Mounds View store, they wanted to be able to provide the same type of shopping experience that the community is used to, as opposed to a drastic change to a big box store.

“We love what Big Top has done in the city. When I grew up, anytime I thought of a liquor store, I thought of Big Top, so its great to be able to carry that on,” Cohen said.

As a family operation, Merwin holds true to their everyday low price model, as opposed to an occasional sale for certain items.

“We like to keep our prices low and keep them consistent, rather than just spike them with a sale every so often,” Tapper said.

Cohen said that Merwin does their best to be an “advocate for their customers,” negotiating deals with suppliers to put out the lowest prices possible.

Merwin has completely renovated the store, giving it a new look and layout. They also expanded to new selections of sizes, from pints to 750s to full cases.
“We have a bottle for every budget,” Cohen said. “We want to be able to give people exactly what they want. We really try to service all clients.”

Cohen said that opening the Mounds View location store has been a challenge. The location was used as an introduction for a new point of sales system, a system that was later implemented in the other four stores. He said another challenge included having to learn a new territory and customer buying habits.

“We have been trying to make sure that we are organizationally set up to give the kind of incentives that would have customers come into our store,” Cohen said.
Easing the transition, Merwin kept all Big Top staff members who wanted to continue to work at the store.

“We love having people who live in the community where they’re invested. I do think that people notice the difference,” Cohen said.

Focusing on the community and neighborhood feel, Merwin’s grand opening celebration will fun for all ages. The event will include activities for children, like face painting and balloon animals. Adult-friendly activities include a variety of tastings, as well as giveaways, sale items and free food. The celebration will also feature Surly Brewery founder Omar Ansari, who will sample two cases of Surly Barrel Aged Darkness, a limited release brew.

The grand opening celebration will be noon-3 p.m. Saturday, April 29 at Merwin Liquors, 2577 Mounds View Blvd., Mounds View.

Contact Sarah Burghardt at [email protected]