Randall’s Wines & Spirits was founded in 1998 with a mission to stock one of the best collections of beer, wines and spirits at self-proclaimed “ridiculously low prices” – and with a unique distribution model and private import license set into place by founder George Randall, they are able to do just that.
“My father used to work for a distributor in southern Illinois, decided he wanted to go on his own, and slowly transitioned to Bordeaux futures and an online business,” says Todd Randall, George’s son and current vice president of Randall’s. The first store opened in Fairview Heights, Illinois, and 10 years later, in anticipation of the market crash, George decided to diversify his audience and move across the river, opening the McKinley Heights location on South Jefferson Avenue near Downtown. The North County store on Old Halls Ferry Road followed five years later, and the West County location on Manchester Road opened soon after that.
“We carry just about everything we can get our hands on,” Todd says, noting that Randall’s carries both big-name national and international brands as well as products from Missouri-based breweries, distilleries and wineries, praising the St. Louis area for its impressive wide variety of local wines, spirits and beers. The South Jefferson location has 20,000 square feet, and with that much space, the goal is to curate a dynamic selection to bring in new items that come to market from local breweries or distilleries. “We know our booze,” declares the company Facebook page.
“It makes a place like us different than any big box store, and it’s more fun, too – we’re able to bring in new products quickly because we’re not a corporate setup,” Todd says. “Every week, there are new wines presented or new spirits that come on the market; every week there’s something new coming in. You get to see firsthand how the industry is changing.”
In recent years, Randall’s has begun to expand the store’s wine program, bringing in European varietals straight from the source – smaller, family-owned wineries. George founded Randall’s alongside certified sommelier Jase Bennett and certified specialist of wine Tony McLaughlin, who both continue to work alongside Todd nearly two decades later to help build the company’s wine program. George’s work in Bordeaux futures allowed for him to set up a private import license, which, for the consumer, cuts out several layers of typical upcharges that other wine shops might incur from both importers and distribution companies.
Todd has traveled with his wine team to Europe twice, visiting small growers and trying new-to-Missouri wine blends, such as a French Pinot Blanc or Côte de Gascogne, offering them at a fraction of the price of competitors. In this case, don’t judge the bottle by its price tag: “There’s a French sauvignon blanc we’re selling for $4.99,” Todd says, “not because it’s crap, but because we’re importing, and there’s no markup.” The first couple runs of the new wine program have been wildly successful – quality French Châteauneuf-du-Pape at impressive prices, for example, is flying off the shelves.
“We want to bring in good value for the St. Louis market – new, fresh wine,” Tony says. “I think it’s fun to meet these people themselves; you see their passion, see how much work goes into it, hear their story, too. It creates more of a niche rather than just buying and selling.”
Randall’s Wines & Spirits, multiple locations, shoprandalls.com