When Matthew Farrah launched Farrah’s Liquor Collective last year, his aim was clear – to support small producers.
With experience on both the production and wholesale side, Farrah noted how difficult it could be to find retail ranging, especially when money and resources were tight in small businesses. This was a problem he wanted to solve, to bring smaller producers into the homes of more consumers and help build their businesses.
“I was a wholesaler and a producer. We produced wine and we distributed wine and spirits, not just our own, but from other brands too, right across the eastern seaboard and overseas. After about seven or eight years, we found it was getting harder and harder to get our wine on the shelves and keep it on the shelves,” Farrah told National Liquor News.
“I thought, geez, there must be a lot of producers like me and I found out there were bucketloads in the market that don’t have the resources to get on the shelves. I just thought there’s got to be an easier way to get product to market in a cost effective way.
“If we could get a big space where we can actually range these products and introduce them to people through tastings and knowledge, I thought we’d have a business that would be thriving and it’s done exactly that.”
Farrah’s Liquor Collective opened its doors in Fyshwick in June 2019, making it still quite a young business when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Australia. However the circumstances of this year have shone positively on the retailer, with more shoppers looking to support local and small business.
“It was a very big risk [to open the store], but we’ve just been going from strength to strength and customers love what we’re doing. With COVID, there’s been a big focus on Australian products and smaller producers, and that’s exactly what we do. We give them a voice in the retail online and in-store,” Farrah said.
Farrah’s Liquor Collective’s online store was only launched in the fortnight before the country wide COVID lockdown earlier this year. This online component for the retailer, as well as increased marketing focus on TV, proved to have a positive effect as the pandemic continued in Australia.
“People were at home and drinking from home and watching free to air TV. During that time we were one of the only bottle shops to advertise on TV and that was a huge bonus to us, to be able to get our message out,” Farrah said.
As well as launching a successful online store, this year has also seen Farrah expand the business offering in a new way – as a wholesaler for local on-premise venues. He said it was always an aim of the business and after rolling out softly with a few venues in recent months, they were ready to step things up.
“We were always looking at doing wholesale because these products are unique, and generally a lot of them aren’t in Canberra, and they don’t have the resources like reps and all that sort of stuff. So what we offer is that service to wholesale all our products to on-premise venues, to get more distribution [for the producers] and more knowledge of their wines through people buying by the glass,” Farrah said.
“We started very softly because COVID wasn’t very kind to restaurants and bars, so there wasn’t a real big push to start with, but we do have some wholesale customers and more are starting to come on organically. Now we’re promoting it and we’re ready to rock and roll.”