In a truly impressive continuous run, Collinsville, Illinois, mainstay Dean’s Liquor has been an area staple that predates the town’s historic “World’s Largest Ketchup Bottle.” The business, still housed in its original Main Street location, has largely remained the same since its 1939 founding. The iconic sign outside has beckoned Collinsville residents to drop in for “tobacco, liquors and cold beer,” as emblazoned on the luminous placard, for as long as most people in town can remember.
Over its 78 years of existence, Dean’s has changed hands a few different times, with various colorful folk from the area assuming ownership – in the 1940s and ’50s, the owner at the time was a recreational boxer and would offer up the back room at Dean’s as a makeshift boxing ring. “People’s names and boxing rules are still painted on the walls,” Ryan Dallape says. Since 1990, Collinsville native Jerry Dallape has retained ownership, with his son Ryan taking over running day-to-day operations eight years ago.
As far as inventory goes in this vintage space, Dean’s can certainly hold its own against larger city liquor stores – the shop is packed with a rotating selection of more than 300 different whiskeys, more than 300 craft beers, a large selection of cigars and loose tobacco for customers to roll their own cigars and cigarettes, and 750 wines housed in their own wine room that doubles as an event space each Friday.
“Dean’s is different from the big box stores because we have that small-town feel – our customers are like family to us,” Ryan says. The highly knowledgeable staff is happy to help with navigating the wine room to find the perfect pairing with the menu for an evening at home, or if what a customer wants isn’t in stock, they facilitate the special-order process to keep the home bar well-stocked. “If we don’t have something, we will do everything we can to find it for you and get it ordered immediately,” he adds.
Especially popular among Dean’s Liquor regulars is the weekly tasting hosted in the wine room, held every Friday evening from 5 to 8pm. The tastings vary from week to week and include wine, whiskey and “everything in between.”
“It’s always been a go-to destination on a Friday evening,” Ryan says, “a great place to gather with friends and learn about new products.”
For the holidays, Dean’s Liquor has brought in various unique liquor gift sets, including hard-to-find whiskey and wine. The shop also offers gift certificates. Ryan suggests following the shop on Facebook and Instagram, as well as signing up for the Dean’s Liquor mailing list at deansliquor.com to learn more about new items and upcoming events.
“We pride ourselves as being the oldest continuously run liquor store in the St. Louis metro area, and we plan to stay that way.”
Dean’s Liquor, 210 W. Main St., Collinsville, Illinois, 618.344.4930, deansliquor.com