By Deborah Jackson, editor National Liquor News

As far as industry legends go Michael David is up there with the best of them. David has enjoyed a 50 year career in liquor retailing, buying his first store in 1966, back when you could only hold a two gallon liquor licence.

Michael David at his Elizabeth Bay Cellars store

Since then he’s clocked up some serious success stories, such as registering the original Liquorland trademark in 1972, which he later sold to Coles, and was a member of the board of the Liquor Stores Association of NSW (LSA NSW) for more than 30 years.

But his most recent triumph is celebrating the 30 year anniversary of his Elizabeth Bay store in Sydney, Elizabeth Bay Cellars. When asked what the secret to his success is, David says, “I think it’s simple, just give the customer what they want, not what you want. That’s all you need”.

David cleverly uses data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to better understand the customer in his local area. “Using the ABS I found out about Collection Districts or CDs, and for my shop I get the individual breakdown of those areas and the amalgamation of all of them. And so I know for my customer there are 1.6 people per apartment. Seventy-two per cent weren’t born in the area or NSW, and 15 per cent speak other languages. Twenty-seven per cent don’t have a vehicle and travel to work by bus. Everything you want to know about their habits is all there for a couple of hundred dollars,” he said.

And David has been able to use this data to implement some successful innovations at his store. “That’s all you’ve got to do – figure out what they want. You don’t cook for 1.6 people, so we have takeaway kitchen curries and pastas already prepared that you can put in the microwave and go. [We sell these] so much that we had to get a new freezer, and the sales have already paid for it.”

Forever an ideas man David has even thought of buying the building next door to expand on the takeaway concept. “The fact that we’ve got a takeaway next door, you don’t want to hurt them. I’ve often thought about buying the building next door and knocking a hole in the wall and bringing in gourmet-prepared food. With 20 microwaves, they cook it and then next to it you have a special deal with a bottle of wine.” He says, “It’s up to you to make your business profitable”.

For more from Michael David see the July edition of National Liquor News.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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  1. I worked for Michael David at Elizabeth Bay Cellars for over 6 years in 80`s and it was great to work for him,customer was always number one in the shop, and customers liked to come to shop,they could chat and talk so it was very friendly social atmosphere, all the best Michael,regards to your family and clients

    Roman MORAWSKI

  2. Wow. Mr. David, you remain one of the most charismatic role models I have ever met. Even though I only spoke to you a few time during your renovation your little lessons have made a lasting impression on the way I conduct my business. From Nigel Fairweather. Marlborough new Zealand.

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