Eden Prairie residents will soon be able to order beer, wine, and spirits from the city’s liquor stores without leaving home.
Jan. 3 is the launch date of www.shopepliquor.com, an e-commerce operation the City of Eden Prairie has been working on for almost two years, according to Jaime Urbina, the operations manager for Eden Prairie Liquor.
In the first few months, residents ordering online from a limited inventory will need to pick up their liquor order inside or at the curb of one of the three municipal liquor stores. By late winter or early spring, the city hopes to have a delivery system in place for online orders, with the full inventory of 2,000 unique items available to online shoppers.
Those initial phases will be exclusively for Eden Prairie residents and delivery in EP, but Urbina said that eventually the city will look at the feasibility of serving additional areas including Chanhassen, the east side of Minnetonka, and western Bloomington.
Across the off-sale liquor industry, online sales have skyrocketed this year, in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions affecting nearly all retail businesses. But people like Urbina are convinced the growth of online liquor sales is here to stay.
“It’s another convenience factor we can give to customers,” he said.
Eden Prairie city officials have been closely monitoring Edina’s experience with municipal liquor sales online, and say the expansion can add several million dollars in sales to the local operation, which is already expected to record a 6 percent increase in sales this year, compared with 2019.
Edina and Eden Prairie are routinely at the top of the list of Minnesota municipal liquor stores with the most sales. In 2018, the most recent year for which statistics are available, Edina ranked second with $13.4 million in liquor sales and Eden Prairie was fourth at $10.85 million. Lakeville topped the list with $15.28 million in sales, according to a state auditor’s report. About 190 Minnesota cities have municipal liquor stores.
Eden Prairie’s liquor sales in 2020 are about $600,000 ahead of last year’s numbers, Urbina said, with the two busiest weeks of the year ahead. The 6-percent increase compares with a 2.5-percent increase that had been forecast for the year.
City officials said the cost to launch e-commerce liquor sales exceeded $21,000, in part because they wanted the expansion to tie in to the existing payment and inventory systems rather than be separate or involve a third-party delivery operation. Once delivery starts in a few months, it will be done by city employees in city vehicles. Eden Prairie Liquor currently has 39 full- and part-time employees.
Profits from Eden Prairie’s liquor operation are transferred to the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) fund. That fund helps pay for items such as playground equipment and parking lots at city parks, as well as trail maintenance throughout Eden Prairie. Last year, $800,000 in profits was transferred to the fund.