Big liquor store with character opens downtown

A new downtown liquor store boasts the charm of a mom-and-pop operation, but with the pricing that comes from bulk buying power.

Downtown Fine Spirits and Wine opened Thursday in the 6,000-square-foot space at 103 S. Wahsatch St.

Gregor Huesgen, the store’s owner, is a former investment banker who spent 30 years working the Asian markets before deciding to settle down in Colorado Springs. The German citizen owns more than $10 million worth of cash-flowing commercial property in the city and has a solar energy and energy efficiency consulting business.

As he helped liquor retailers throughout the city improve their bottom lines with lighting improvements, he saw an opportunity.

“I studied the business model,” he said. “There are neighborhood liquor stores and big-box stores.”

Huesgen plans to combine the two.

His shop is outfitted with charming antique-finish furnishings from northern India, and it’s locally owned, operated and fully powered with rooftop solar panels. With energy-efficient lighting, Huesgen says he’s confident his liquor store is the greenest in the city.

The store itself is about three times the size of a typical neighborhood shop and roughly half the size of some of the big-box liquor stores like Cheers and Liquor Outfitters, Huesgen said. But he has plenty of storage space and a 7,000-square-foot basement he could use for storage in order to get some of the best pricing on bulk deals.

He’ll feature more than 700 wines and a wide range of beers and liquors, he said.

“And I don’t have any problem if someone comes in and asks if we can get something for them,” he said.

While the shop will carry a wide range from high-end to low-end, he said he will not carry the cheapest beers or liquors.

“I’ll go as low as the Bud Light range,” he said. “I won’t go lower.”

Huesgen said he expects the market at first to be the people who work in nearby office buildings. But he chose the downtown location for his new liquor store because he suspects the area will grow.

“This downtown needs density,” he said.

As a crew of mostly family along with new manager Sarah Evans prepared the space and stocked shelves, Huesgen said he is sure the character of the store, its location and his competitive pricing will draw customers.

Since he owns the building and most of the energy costs will be offset by the solar installation, he said he has the advantage of low overhead.

“I’ve been putting the wine in the system,” Evans said. “And the bottles are all discounted about 40 or 50 percent off the recommended retail.”