Carrie Rengers

R&J Discount Liquor customers give an overwhelming ‘Wow’ to the store’s expansion

Popular Wichita liquor store undergoes expansion

R&J Liquor, near Douglas and Hillside, recently expanded and more than doubled their retail space.
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R&J Liquor, near Douglas and Hillside, recently expanded and more than doubled their retail space.

It was a very merry holiday sales season for R&J Discount Liquor owners Jeff and Shelly Breault, which followed a challenging expansion at their store across from Dillons at Douglas and Hillside.

“Imagine remodeling your house with 30,000 people a month coming over,” Jeff Breault says.

The once jam-packed, cramped store couldn’t comfortably fit even two people passing in its aisles previously. The change has been drastic.

“The response from the customers has been overwhelmingly, ‘Wow,’ ” Jeff Breault says.

The first expansion phase happened in late 2017 when the Breaults bought the property next to them and demolished a dog wash that used to be there, creating extra parking.

They’ve now completed a major phase that includes an addition to their 3,000-square-foot building, “basically almost doubling the size of the store,” Breault says.

“We’ve been enjoying the fruits of that for sure,” he says of extra sales.

To help visualize what an extra 3,000 square feet means, compare that to the much-discussed Nifty Nut House expansion, which resulted in only 1,500 extra square feet.

“And they didn’t get a new chandelier,” Breault jokes.

So why a chandelier in a liquor store?

“Because I had a spot for it, and I thought it would just add the perfect touch of class.”

The chandelier is in a new entryway.

“We have the best entryway in the city,” Breault says. “People stop and look up.”

The fixture is similar in scale to the chandelier at 6S Steakhouse, though restaurant owner Brandon Steven may disagree about whose is best.

A final expansion phase will happen in March shortly before a new law goes in effect on April 1 that allows liquor stores to sell tobacco within their stores.

The Breaults will demolish their old smoke shop space, build a new tasting counter and create what Jeff Breault calls a “wall o’ whiskey.”

Breault says he already has a world-class collection of single-malt scotch, but he can’t display it well.

Where the old check-out counter was, he’ll have a wall enclosed in glass to display 40- and 50-year-old scotch bottles.

As Breault previously noted, some of the bottles aren’t available anywhere else nationally.

How does a Wichita liquor store have scotch that can’t be found elsewhere nationally?

“Because the owner of the liquor store is crazy enough to buy and hold on to it because he likes to drink it if he has to also.”

In addition to the Breaults celebrating sales — Jeff Breault won’t say exactly how merry they were — customers are celebrating the extra space.

“Now we have three- or four-butt aisles,” Breault says. “In retail parlance, that’s the width of the aisles.”

Hmmm, doesn’t that depend on the size of the, ah, posteriors?

“I’m not going to go there.”

Carrie Rengers has been a reporter for almost three decades, including 16 years at The Wichita Eagle. Her Have You Heard? column of business scoops runs five days a week in The Eagle. If you have a tip, please e-mail or tweet her or call 316-268-6340.


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