Take tour of St. Paul’s Dabbler Depot, a destination liquor store

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You’ve heard of a destination brewery, but how about a destination liquor store?

Many of us have a shop we’re willing to travel a little further for, to procure that hard-to-find beer, wine or whiskey, but the Dabbler Depot, the new retail liquor store on St. Paul’s West Seventh Street from the guy behind the Beer Dabbler events and The Growler Magazine, is an entirely new animal.

Yes, there’s a great wine selection, spirits you don’t see every day and a never-ending wall of beer, all of which is lovingly kept cold from the moment it arrives — which means the beer you get is fresher than what you’ll get in most retail outlets that store beer warm. But there’s also a coffee shop, serving Rusty Dog beans from Madison, Wis., a wall of plants that are watered by condensation from those giant beer and wine coolers, a Price-is-Right-style wheel to spin if you’re a member (prizes range from coozies to free pizzas, car washes and more) and a rotating selection of beer on tap so you can sample a few staff favorites while you shop.

There’s also a glass-encased studio space where the team plans to record short videos about every product. You’ll eventually be able to scan a bar code and hear more about each wine, beer and spirit that the store carries. If the maker of said product is in town, they’ll hopefully talk about their stuff on camera. They’ll also record podcasts there. And that room is not in use as a studio, it’ll double as a tasting room. Owner Matt Kenevan hopes to really up the ante on what a liquor-store tasting looks like, too. Think high-end stuff, poured by people who know what they’re talking about.

Eventually, the shop hopes to have a permanent food truck on the premises to give neighbors even more of a reason to stop by.

And all of this started during the pandemic when owner Matt Kenevan couldn’t hold his popular Beer Dabbler tasting events, so came up with the idea of “Dabbler in a Box,” which was a variety box of beer coupled with a video from the makers of each one. The boxes were sold at Surdyk’s liquor store in Northeast Minneapolis.

“I said, ‘You know, what, we’re giving a lot of money to Surdyk’s,’” Kenevan said. “Why don’t we start a liquor store?”

First he thought it could be a virtual liquor store, but regulations surrounding liquor stores made that tough, so he decided to go all in, creating the coolest liquor store he could imagine. And Kenevan’s imagination is big.

He’s not done yet, either. He’s hoping that eventually, you’ll attend one of his Beer Dabbler events, try a beer, and be able to add it to a virtual shopping cart on the spot to pick up later at the Dabbler Depot.

He’d like the stakes on the Price-is-Right wheel to be bigger — how about winning a trip to another state to meet the makers of a beer?

They also plan to offer subscription programs for wine, beer and liquor. You will get a curated box of whatever it is you’re into, delivered right to your door.

“We really want this to be different from any other store in this industry nationwide,” Kenevan said.

As far as we can see, it’s already mission accomplished.

Dabbler Depot: 1545 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; dabblerdepot.com



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