On the corner of Plum and 5th Avenue sits an iconic landmark. For decades, the state-owned liquor store supplied Olympia residents, downtown shoppers, and local bars and restaurants.
Now that state-run liquor stores are thing of the past, T Brothers Liquor & Wine Lodge has maintained the convenient location while expanding its offerings.
Sliding Into A New Industry
When the state announced the auction of liquor stores, Andy Thielen got out his calculator, spreadsheets, and stop watch. He researched and analyzed the financials of the liquor business on 5th Avenue and Plum Street in downtown Olympia. He watched the shopping pattern of customers to determine if he could expect the same amount of traffic and business.
While he certainly enjoys a tasty adult beverage, his motivation for buying the liquor store was driven by return on investment and offering outstanding customer service to his neighbors.
The Olympia native, Thielen is surrounded by family with successful businesses. His parents owned an insurance business for 25 years and his wife is a certified public accountant with Padgett Business Services.
Thielen’s business partners in T Brothers are his brother Mike and sister-in-law Lori, who also own Glacier Aviation.
“When the opportunity to purchase state liquor stores came up last year, I did a lot of research before deciding that I could make a business out of it,” reports Thielen.
The Plum Street liquor store was the only location that he bid on. Thielen selected this location because of the limited competition and high traffic patterns.
Adding a Wine Cellar
When Thielen took ownership, he inherited a depleted liquor inventory and no wine.
“I listened to the customers and the first thing that I heard was ‘bring back the wine,’” remarks Thielen.
The oversized building permits Thielen some flexibility. With extra space, he is able to adjust his inventory based on customer demands. Originally he planned to add a beer cave but after listening to customers shifted to a wine cellar.
“We have over 1,000 different varieties of wine,” says Thielen. To put it in perspective, the average grocery store set will be around 750 varieties. The selection is suitable for any taste. Take, for instance, Thielen’s favorite beverage, Mamango, a sparkling wine made with mango.
“We stock a huge Washington selection, along with California wines and a great import section,” adds Thielen.
Inside the wine cellar, T Brothers hosts wine tastings every second and fourth Thursday of each month. Picking a theme, such as Washington wines, Thielen links up with a distributor, tasting room manager or winery owner to conduct the wine tasting. “Tasters want to talk with someone who knows the intricacies of the wine,” explains Thielen.
Alongside the wine tasting, T Brothers also offers beer tasting and hopes to add liquor tasting once legislation is approved. You can also find cheese, fruit and chocolate pairings to compliment the wine. Follow T Brothers on Facebook for the latest information about wine tasting events.
Offering A Convenient One-Stop Liquor Store
One stop into T Brothers and you will have all the fixings for a party. Grab a bottle of liquor, pick up limes, throw in a bag of ice, and grab a mixer.
“The typical grocery store carries about 250 different kinds of liquor. We sell over 2,000 varieties,” explains Thielen. Additionally, shoppers can choose from sizes ranging from mini to half-gallons and everything in between.
When Thielen bought the store, he offered jobs to three of the former liquor store employees. “They know how to make every drink and have tasted virtually everything we stock,” he says affectionately.
Customers appreciate being able to turn to T Brothers knowledgeable staff to get product recommendations and drink suggestions.
Since the store sells more than just alcohol, kids are welcome to shop alongside their parents. This flexibility makes it easier to run into the store, grab your favorite brew, and head back home.
For 35 years, a liquor store has occupied the downtown Olympia street corner on Plum and 5th. Thielen has successfully rebranded T Brothers Liquor & Wine Lodge. No longer is it a stuffy state-run liquor store. Instead, it’s a locally, family-owned business that focuses on a a huge selection, competitive pricing and a knowledgeable staff.
And, that’s something we can all appreciate when shopping local.
417 Plum Street
Olympia, WA 98501
Monday – Thursday – 9:00am – 9:00 pm
Friday – 9:00 am – 10:00 pm
Saturday – 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sunday – 10:00 am – 7:00 pm