Culver City, California-based Hi-Lo Liquor Market opened a second location in Long Beach in December. The new venue, located on Ocean Boulevard, is quickly becoming a neighborhood hotspot thanks to its location near both downtown and the area’s residential corridor, as well as its extensive selection of wines, spirits, beers, and food. The Long Beach store features a tasting counter, and locals are making a habit of stopping by after work and on weekends to sample wine and beer pours. The counter boasts a rotating list of seven wines by the glass and eight beers on tap. Hi-Lo also hosts weekly tastings—wine flights on Thursdays and beer flights on Fridays. “They’re meant to be educational experiences as well as fun social gatherings,” says co-founder Talmadge Lowe. Hi-Lo mixes up the themes so as to constantly offer something different; a recent Chardonnay tasting was titled “Chard Day’s Night.” For seating, Hi-Lo has benches in addition to the counter stools.
Founders Lowe and Chris Harris opened Hi-Lo in Culver City in 2016, and soon realized they wanted to add a bigger space. The Long Beach store is 2,200 square feet, compared to just 1,780 square feet in Culver City. The new venue has high ceilings, exposed beams, and skylights, creating a bright ambiance.
“Our mission has always been to find the most unique and intriguing products in every category,” Lowe says. The new store stocks 250 wine SKUs and California wine is starting strong, with customers gravitating toward the 2018 Las Jaras Sweet Berry wine ($40), the 2018 St. Reginald Parish The Marigny Direct Press Pinot Gris ($26), and the 2018 Discovino Donna rosé ($23).
The spirits section at the Long Beach store offers 350 SKUs, and Lowe says the craze over Bourbon, rye, and other whiskies is front and center, with popular offerings including Lost Republic Bourbon ($42 a 750-ml.), Mulholland American whiskey ($35), Redwood Empire Emerald Giant rye ($39), Akashi White Oak blended Japanese whisky ($48), and The Feathery blended Scotch whisky ($75). Local craft spirits in stock include Eastsider gin ($36) from Los Angeles-based Dead of Night Distillery, Nat Kidder Navy Strength vodka ($20) from Los Angeles-based Old 49 Distilling Co., and Limoncello ($34) from Ventura Spirits Co. in Ventura.
Hi-Lo offers 400 beer SKUs, with mainstream options like Modelo ($4 a 24-ounce can), Pacifico ($18 a 12-pack of 12-ounce bottles), and Stella Artois ($22 a 12-pack of 11.2-ounce bottles) leading sales. But Hi-Lo’s focus is on craft beer, and it makes sure to stock releases from up-and-coming brewers. “New distilleries, breweries, and wineries are constantly emerging, trying to get people to notice them,” Lowe says. “So we try to lean on them.” Some customer favorites include Oklahoma-based Prairie Artisan Ales’ Vape Tricks sour ale ($16 a 4-pack of 12-ounce cans), Oregon-based Heater Allen Brewing’s Coastal lager ($18 a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans), and Brooklyn-based Grimm Artisanal Ales’ Double Negative Imperial stout ($12 a 500-ml.) California offerings include Brouwerij West’s 8½ IPA ($20.50 4-pack of 16-ounce cans), Modern Times Beer’s Dreamspeaker IPA ($15), and Enegren Brewing Co.’s Edel Pils ($13).
The food market’s accessibility speaks to Hi-Lo’s unofficial motto: craft, convenience, and community. “Those are the three things that we want to focus on,” Lowe says. “Especially community—we see friends who come in every week, or office workers stopping by for happy hour. Neighbors filter in and out to see what’s on tap.”
The Long Beach unit’s 6-employee staff works to hone the customer experience. “Customer service is integral for us,” Lowe says. “We offer a warm, hospitable environment, and our employees are inviting and helpful.” So far, Lowe is pleased with the enthusiastic reception Hi-Lo has received from Long Beach residents. “It’s a vibrant, creative community and everyone has been so welcoming,” he says. “I feel like the stars were aligning for this spot.” He sees further expansion in Hi-Lo’s future and growth of the brand beyond a store. “We’re dreaming big and we’d like to be in as many neighborhoods in California—and in America—as we can.”