Ely Liquor set to be in new location and open Friday

by Nick Wognum
A major move, both in location and in size, is in store for Ely Liquor on Oct. 8.
Owner Eric St. Martin gave a tour of the new location in the former dollar store across from Ely DQ Grill & Chill.
Local contractors have been busy building a massive beer cave, putting in new lighting, building shelves and preparing the business.
“This building is seven times larger than what we have now,” said St. Martin. “I’ll have very little in storage here, it will be out on the shelves.”
The 30 foot by 24 foot beer cave is located to the right of the front door and can hold 36 pallets of beer.
“In the middle we’ll have the full pallets of beer like Busch Light, Hamm’s, Miller Lite and Pabst. The rest will be filled out around the edge,” said St. Martin. “It will hold way more than the old one.”
He had two cooling units installed in the beer cave, but only one is needed but wanted to add redundancy.
“And because we had the extra space we built a keg cooler on the other side,” he said.
St. Martin bought the business a little over two years ago and decided to make the change to a larger space when the price on the building dropped.
“They dropped the price by $150,000 and I was the first one to put an offer in,” said St. Martin. He plans to sell the building where the business currently operates.
Ely Liquor has made a name for itself by offering free delivery, having “Drink for a Cause” days where 10 percent of sales are donated to various causes including most recently the Ely Touchdown Club and the Northeast Range/Ely swim team.
“I will open up without it but I will build a bar where we can do wine tastings or whiskey tastings,” said St. Martin.
Reclaimed wood will be used to build the bar, the same materials used for the custom built counter area.
A bartender for 30 years, St. Martin knows service can outperform price.
“Knowing what somebody likes to drink or their flavor profile allows us to provide good service. Even something like if the bottle doesn’t make it to your car, come back in. I’ve replaced multiple broken bottles in the parking lot,” said St. Martin.
“Everybody thinks of the liquor industry as a retail industry, I don’t. I worked my entire life as a bartender, server, salesman in the service industry. I consider this a service industry. I want my employees to help pick something out and help carry it out to their car. I want people helping people.”
St. Martin also purchased custom shelving for wine.
“These are lay downs, the way wine is supposed to be stored. All the wine of any quality at all should be stored on its side. The stuff that I buy, that I personally taste and choose will be in lay downs.”
St. Martin is thinking customers will like the little red wagons to put product in as they walk around. He said he will also carry both Coke and Pepsi products.
There will also be a “Reserve Room” which will be kept at 56 degrees through an in-bottle thermometer.
“That’s perfect wine cave temp,” said St. Martin.
The room will have wine racks and a humidor for 2,500 cigars that are aged properly. Collectible whiskeys, bourbon, Scotch and rums will also be in this room, which is behind the front counter.
St. Martin is working with artist Joe Baltich to paint some murals on the walls, which will also feature Eric Sherman photos, taxidermy and other Ely related items.
The current location at 438 E. Sheridan will close on Thursday and the new location will open on Friday.
“I’ve got enough product to stock both stores,” said St. Martin. “We’ll close Thursday at 10 p.m. there and open here at 8 a.m. Friday.”
St. Martin said there’s still work ahead, but he’s looking forward to Friday.
“It’s going to be fun,” said St. Martin.