Your Happy Place Liquors makes it their mission to bring what people like to the shelves of the boutique liquor store. The two owners, David and Julia Cruz, are former long-time residents of Logan Square, so it’s fitting that they would remain close to the neighborhood for their work. They acquired the store last September and opened Your Happy Place Liquors (2501 N. Milwaukee Ave.) in December, but “it’s been years in the works,” David said. Julia always wanted to own a boutique. David wanted something in alcohol. “We compromised,” he said.
The focus of their business is on wine, craft beer and liquors, which are carefully selected by the two, only adding items if highly recommended or if they chose it. Neither owner has a formal background in the alcohol business; David was a banker, and Julia was a legal secretary. They rely on their own tastebuds, research and customer recommendations when stocking shelves. This concept goes even a step further, with customers encouraged to try samples of products and attend tastings on Friday nights. “You don’t want to risk buying something you’re not happy with. We understand that,” David said.
Additionally, they provide service to BYOB restaurants on their block. Customers of some surrounding businesses can order their beer or wine at Your Happy Place, have it quickly chilled if they’d like, then David or Julia will bring it by. Businesses such as Trike, Crab Pad, Cloud Vapor Lounge and Small Fry pass out business cards and have menus.
David and Julia Cruz spoke with LoganSquarist about their business. Edited excerpts follow.
LoganSquarist: Tell me a bit about the business.
David Cruz: We really believe in knowing what we have. We do research to see what’s new and different to add in. We’re not trying to compete with the big boys that have all the commercial products under the sun. We just want customers to know that they can trust that this is good when it comes to this type of spirit or beer. That’s basically our thing. We have a lot of conversations with the customers. The community is so amazing because we have a lot of customers that just love coming in and just talking and having conversations and learning.
Julia Cruz: We love to pick their brains to see what they like. Our tastes might be a little different from others.
DC: We regularly add inventory from our customer’s reactions and requests.
JC: And we love that they come back and see that we have it. It makes us feel good.
LS: What do you love most about your role at this store?
DC: The decision-making process. Corporate America is different. Somebody else decides it and whether or not you like it, you do it. Here, we talk and see what makes sense. We could pick the brains of customers and distributors and Google and our opinions and come together and make our decisions based on what makes sense. When we put the idea together, so many family members and friends didn’t agree with the concept. They said you’d have to have aisles and ramen noodles on the shelves and you have to sell everything because people are going to be upset if they can’t find that. But we didn’t envision that. We wanted something different, and we love the freedom of that.
JC: That’s exactly what it is. We love the freedom of it. If I want to put on stretchy pants this morning and dye my hair pink and blue, it’s ok.
DC: I used to work at a bank that wouldn’t allow dogs to come in. And now, “come on in!” We have a lot of dogs that come in with their owner and come around the counter for their snacks.
JC: They come in and some people say, “You did a bad thing. My dog just pulled me in the store.”
LS: What is the most unique service that Your Happy Place Liquors offers residents of Logan Square?
DC: You usually don’t see art gallery work with liquor. You usually don’t have the extra mile with caring about customers’ opinions and sincerely finding what they are asking for and putting it on the shelves.
JC: And the other thing is delivering to the BYOBs for free. We can also put alcohol in a chilling station here and have it be cold for you, walk to the restaurant. That’s a little different from a typical liquor store.
LS: What do you envision for the future of this business?
DC: Near future: We hope that more of the community could discover us. Farther out, we would love to eventually have a cigar lounge. With more experience and being able to be around, more craft beer companies will give us a chance to get their new items sooner. Since we’re small, we kind of have to fight a little to get them into the door. Big companies already have the easier way in.
LS: Do you have any upcoming events?
DC: On Friday, April 28th, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., we’re hosting whiskey and beer tastings along with an introduction to the flavors of CAO Cigars and a Cigar 101 presentation. A 5 Rabbits Paleta beer and popsicle pairing and an art event in collaboration with Mesh & Bone Spirits is also in the works. We’re planning on having events every month. We are in talks with a local pet adoption agency to organize a pet adoption day at the store this summer. We want to do something for Cinco de Mayo. It’s all in the works. We will put it on Facebook and Instagram, whatever we have coming up.
LS: If you were on a deserted island, what drink and book would you choose to bring?JC: I would take bourbon, for sure. And any romance novel. I want to stay in touch with my romantic side.
DC: I’ve been trying to read Art of War for two years, but I keep on getting pulled away. I’d catch up with that. I would definitely have to go with a bottle of Mezcal.
Current hours are from 12-9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday (closed Tuesdays), and open on Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m. and Sundays until 7 p.m. Hours will change with the seasons.
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