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Bottle shop battleground

Wine on display in Amato’s (Photo: Amato’s Liquor Mart)

I could throw a stone from Amato’s Liquor Mart in Norton Street, Leichhardt to the new Dan Murphy’s store in Darley Road, Leichhardt. That’s how close they are.

And silly me believed that liquor outlets were approved by the licensing authorities on the basis of need – in other words, a lack of existing outlets nearby.

Several years ago, Amato’s and the local community succeeded in stopping Woolworths building a Dan Murphy’s on the same site, the narrow strip of land between Darley Road and the City West Link road. But suddenly, as if by magic after a spring rain, one has sprung up.

It’s much like any other lower-tier Dan Murphy’s. In other words, it doesn’t have as wide a range as flagship stores like South Strathfield or Willoughby. But it has convenient free parking underneath and a lift to take you up to the grog if your legs aren’t up to the job.

I’ve always liked Amato’s. It’s not perfect but it has a homely feel, a massive stock of wine and reflects the Italian nature of the suburb. And keeps an amazing range of liqueurs, many of them Italian. Italian snacks and gourmet foods, too. It feels as if real people run the place.

I hope the Leichhardt Dan Murphy’s doesn’t steal too much of Amatos’ trade. That would be unfair and unjust. But there’s no doubt that is what the brains trust at Woolworths is trying to do. Open up a new shop as close as possible to an existing shop, steal their trade and try your hardest to close them down. It’s the way they operate.

Don’t get me wrong. Dan Murphy’s shops are very good; some excellent. But they don’t play fair, and the licensing authorities let them get away with it.

8 thoughts on “Bottle shop battleground”

  1. Bob L says:

    My wife and I were in Port Macquarie before Christmas last year and had lunch at a nearby cellar door restaurant. We got talking about the Dans in town which had opened in 2013. As reported to us, as soon as Dans opened the cellar door sales around the district plummeted as the locals took to buying their cheap wine in town. As it turned out, the wines on offer at this cellar door were mostly from 2013 – even the whites.

  2. Michele Round says:

    Hi Huon,
    You could have written that piece for me in my little corner of Launceston with the Dan Murphy ‘liquor benevolent society’ (which is what the locals think it is) only a block away.
    I puzzled in exactly the same way over Liquor Licensing’s reasons behind allowing yet more availability of liquor in such a small area. (We already have several small bottleshops in the locale as well) And also the local authorities’ helpfulness in allowing cars to queue on a major arterial road to get in and out of the inadequate car park. They even blocked lanes off to allow easy exit.
    It hasn’t exactly been plain sailing running a small, independent store for the last two months, but my teeth are gritted and I am striking boldly forward.
    Please tell the nice folk at Amato’s that if they ever want to chat to someone who knows exactly what they are going through, they can contact me @Pinot Shop. Regards Michele

  3. Andrew Wlismore says:

    Hi Huon

    You are correct in our Leichardt store not being as great as we would have liked. This was a result of the rush to have it complete and open ahead of Christmas and using the original plan due to a range of delays in securing the lease and licence over the years. Rather than going through further delays and opposition to put in new plans that have built on our experience, we simply went with what we had. Hopefully when we know what WestConnex plans are, we can revisit the store design again.

    As to its location – sorry to say, but this had nothing to do with trying to be close to Amato’s location or any other nefarious reason. Inner metro land or building sites that fit the Dan Murphy’s footprint are like hens teeth. This was simply what was available in the area. We actually closed our BWS store on Norton street to open this Dan Murphy’s.

    We wish Amato’s well. He has a great offer as you say and a strong loyalty program.

    Cheers

    Andrew Wilsmore
    Endeavour Drinks Group

    1. Huon Hooke
      Huon Hooke says:

      Thanks for your response, Andrew. Would I be correct in assuming the liquor licence from the BWS in Norton Street was transferred to the new Dan Murphy’s? The new premises certainly have greater potential to capitalise on the licence.

      1. Andrew Wlismore says:

        Correct – it was a removal and transfer. It was unfortunate as the BWS on Norton Street serviced a regular crowd of locals who dined in the area. As an overall Group, it was however, the right decision to open the Dan’s and service the wider destination inner west customers with the broader range offered from a Dan’s.

  4. Brian Gundy says:

    I used to be in the business, Woolworths apply their market power to suppliers, they buy at similar prices to good independents like Amatos’ but then screw the suppliers for favourable terms that other can’t and make up margins that way. An independent can often buy cheaper from Dan’s than a wholesaler or direct. I fear for Frank and his family, I used to supply them and go in support them with tastings and so on. This will make it hard. Dans at Hurstville put bottleshops all around out of business. That is the only plan they have.

  5. Brew says:

    Amato’s. Frank – the man.

  6. Kay says:

    Who are the narcissistic, faceless employees of the two Australia retail monopolies who spend their days plotting and planning how to achieve greater percentages for their shareholders?
    Who are the shareholders who benefit from the demise of family owned, 2nd and 3rd generation honest businesses?
    Are these people AUSTRALIAN?
    Their values certainly don’t reflect it!

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