Lakeville Liquor receives national award

One of 15 named Retailer of the Year

Lakeville Liquors has been named a Retailer of the Year 2017 by a national magazine, the first time the prestigious recognition has been given to a municipal liquor system.

Photo submitted
Lakeville Liquor Operations Manager Brenda Visnovec receives a Retailer of the Year award June 14.

Beverage Dynamics, a national retail magazine for liquor stores across the U.S., annually selects 15 of the industry’s best retailers to be recognized as Retailer of the Year.

“They selected us based on our uniqueness for giving back to the community,” said Brenda Visnovec, Lakeville liquor operations manager.

Lakeville’s liquor operations were also recognized for the way they support other municipal liquor businesses around the state, providing everything from consulting and advice to employee handbooks.

“We do a lot of sharing of information, which is unique to the municipal liquor stores,” Visnovec said. “Almost every city uses our employee manual because it’s so extensive.”

Visnovec was presented the award at the Beverage Alcohol Retailers Conference in Minneapolis June 14.

Visnovec said the city went through an extensive application process to be considered for the award,

“They wanted examples of where people are supporting other things and making it really something for others to strive for,” Visnovec said. “On top of the actual retail sales, it’s about how much we work out in the community.”

Since 2012, fundraisers held at the three liquor stores have helped fund various community initiatives, including repaying a city-funded bridge loan for construction of the Heritage Center and contributing to the Lion’s Club Brew Battle and the annual Taste of Lakeville event, the major fundraiser of the Lakeville Rotary.

A dozen wines are sampled before the Taste event and the winners featured for sale at the city’s liquor stores.

Fundraisers held at the city’s three liquor stores have garnered tens of thousands in annual donations and have helped fund projects, including parks projects, which include the recent construction of the Land of Amazement 2.0 playground in Steve Michaud Park, the Yellow Ribbon’s efforts at building ramps for disabled veterans and construction of the Ritter Dog Park.

Lakeville’s liquor stores will be fundraising for Fire It Up for Public Safety in July, a campaign to provide water rescue equipment to the city.

Lakeville Liquors locations also raise donations for local food shelves, which Visnovec said amounts to about $25,000 annually.

Visnovec said the Liquor Committee approves all community causes to which it will collect donations.

“There’s a lot of great causes out there, but we just can’t say OK we want to sponsor a softball team or something like that,” Visnovec said. “It’s got to go back into the community and benefit all.”

She also credited the municipal liquor store employees for regularly volunteering their time and the extra effort they regularly contribute.

“We do a lot of philanthropy around here,” she said.

“Sometimes when I come up with promotions, staff kind of look at me and roll their eyes and go, OK, how much blood do you want out of me this time,” Visnovec said. “But they’re all so good about it. This is a team that believes not only in the business and customer service, but also believes in the community,”

Visnovec said she was grateful to be recognized with such a prestigious award but still grappling with the realization Lakeville Liquors was selected for the honor.

“These are kind of known as the big guys,” Visnovec said. “Total Wine has received this award, BevMo, Haskell’s. For a store operation like ours, it’s unique, but we have a great story. It’s not just one person becoming a millionaire, it’s the entire community benefiting from this.”