The billboards sit in line on Interstate 71. | Courtesy of Boxcar PR

Local chain Liquor Barn is poking at the competition with a strategically placed billboard advertisement.

Maryland-based Total Wine & More posted a billboard advertisement along Interstate 71 downtown promoting its location across Shelbyville Road from Mall St. Matthews, touting it as “worth the drive.” The liquor, beer and wine superstore opened its second Louisville location in October last year.

Liquor Barn, also an alcohol superstore, already was advertising on the next billboard down Interstate 71, just behind Total Wine’s advertisement, said Jonathan Blue, managing director of Liquor Barn owner Blue Equity.

“The funny, ironic part is that we were talking about changing our billboard,” he said. “We were just going to change it to a generic freshened version.”

That is until they saw what Total Wine’s billboard said and decided to stoke the competition between the two with its own billboard reading “Don’t Drive … We Deliver!”

The billboard hasn’t whipped up the social media frenzy that the mysterious Chris and Jessica billboards did last summer, but Blue hopes it will attract the attention of drivers.

“You only have one second to catch someone’s eye,” he said.

Insider Louisville has reached out to Total Wine & More to ask if they plan to respond to the Liquor Barn’s advertisement with their own new billboard sign.

Liquor Barn is stoking competition with Total Wine & More on these billboards along Interstate 71. | Courtesy of Boxcar PR

“We respect all of our competitors. We are locally owned and operated and have been for a while and are just happy to come up with creative things,” Blue said.

Liquor Barn started its delivery service in June 2018 and sales from delivery business has been doubling month over month, Blue said, noting that it is still a small part of its sales. Alcohol delivery in Kentucky became legal in June 2017.

Delivery will help Liquor Barn to continue to compete as consumers increasingly want convenience, Blue said.

Grocery chains, including Kroger and ALDI, are now offering delivery at some locations, and there are numerous startups that allow consumers to get food from restaurants that don’t have their own in-house delivery.

While delivery can be an easy way to order alcohol, liquor stores in Louisville can still attract a crowd to their stores by offering specialty bourbon releases. Both Liquor Barn and Total Wine offer drawings for chances to buy rare bourbons and larger releases of multiple hard-to-find bourbons; each draw crowds that camp out in lines outside the stores.

“The more business we do, the more Pappy we get, the more releases we get,” Blue said.

Blue Equity purchased Kentucky’s 15 Liquor Barn stores in 2017 for more than $25 million. It operates those, along with two Party Mart liquor stores.

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Caitlin Bowling
Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]