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Farrah’s Liquor Collective: a new frontier in alcohol shopping

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It’s liquor like you’ve never seen before.

And there’s oh so much of it (trailer loads, actually).

Canberra businessman and wine producer Matt Farrah is bringing a new concept in alcohol sales to Canberra.

This week is the soft launch of Farrah’s Liquor Collectivea massive warehouse space of 2400 square metres that will house an enormous array of wines, spirits and beers—some of which have never been for sale in Canberra before, and all of which will be sold at a discount.

“It’s a farm gate approach that supports the producer and passes on savings directly to the customer,” says Matt.

Taking over the cavernous space that was The Good Guys at 8 Townsville Street in Fyshwick, Matt says customers are likely to warm to the enormous and no-frills warehouse when they see that the savings on a fancy fit-out are going to them.

So don’t expect the Ritz Carlton—think more ‘gigantic concrete space filled with pallets of grog’.

Buoyed by his recent discount liquor pop-up at Pialligo Estate, Matt said he was confident the model would work.

“At Pialligo, I sold a lot of stock that was unfamiliar to the Canberra market. They tried it, they liked it, they bought it, and then they came back again and bought some more!”

For nearly 30 years, Matt has been involved in every aspect of the liquor industry.

Starting in 1992 when he opened Campbell Liquor Discounts at the Campbell Shops, Matt learned the basics of customer demand and the pressures in the supply chain.

His knowledge of the industry grew exponentially in 2004 when he and a couple of good mates embarked on vineyard development in Marlborough in New Zealand and planted 800 acres of vineyards.

“Not only were we supplying grapes to other vineyards, but it seemed logical and good business sense to produce our own wines. So over the years we have made and distributed a number of brands including Pear Tree, Mr Smith, Little Black Stone, Waihopai, Beachwood and Farrah Estate, just to name a few.”

It is Matt’s hands-on knowledge of everything—from growing the grapes to winemaking, production and brand building, distribution and wholesaling, that has led him to his newest venture.

He saw how hard it was to get his wines into the retailers and the battles the producers had to bring their product to market.

“With the major retailers controlling 80 per cent of the market and the buying groups controlling around 8 per cent, it is no wonder producers find it hard to be able to get their produce onto the shelves,” he said.

“They are further hampered by traditional methods of distributing product which is very costly and adds to the shelf price paid by consumers.”

Matt has gone directly to producers across the country, from the tiny organic vineyard Tasmanian Organic Wines—which cannot produce enough to satisfy the big commercial contracts—to small boutique breweries such Wilson’s brewing, Malt’n’Hops, Stomping Ground, Ziierholzand, Wild Polly, Hemingways, Bright Akasha, Billson’s, and Rock’s, and offered them all space on his shelves.

There will also be many familiar and local labels on offer such as The Canberra Distillery, Underground Distillery, Lake George Winery, and Brindabella Hills Winery.

“I’ve invited them all in. I want to share the love!”

His huge space means he can carry massive varieties and volume while keeping pricing down.

“It is about working with the producers and designing the business to cut every bit of traditional cost out of the supply chain that will deliver unbeatable pricing.”

Matt understands that some of the less well-known brands may not have rusted-on consumers so Farrah’s Liquor Collective is going to encourage tasting. “There are so many great products that you never get to try and now you can.”

The store will have around 100 products available for tasting every Friday and Saturday and Matt will be on hand to explain products and educate customers.

“The whole collective idea is not only an economic model that brings producers closer to consumers but it is going to be a really fun experience to visit such a huge space and consider trying new things. I know people will want to come back if they feel they have had fun, learned something new and saved themselves some money all in one trip.”

the essentials

What: Farrah’s Liquor Collective
Where: 8 Townsville St Fyshwick
Open: 10 am-6 pm, 7 days a week
Facebook: facebook.com/farrahsliquorcollective
Instagram: @farrahsliquorcollective

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