Co-owner Roderick Groetzinger welcomes the community with a bright, open space at his John’s Island liquor store Equal Parts | Photo by Rūta Smith

Let’s all admit it — liquor stores can be a little shady. Spaces are tight and dimly lit. They’re organized, but you’ll typically get no real direction or idea as to what any of the labels mean. Have a question? Good luck finding an answer.

Roderick Groetzinger wants to change that with his John’s Island liquor store, Equal Parts. “With almost all liquor stores, I feel like they can be very dated and musty,” he said. “There’s nothing in there that makes you feel like you want to spend a lot of time there. You just want to get what you’re in there for and leave.”

With this stigma in mind, Groetzinger designed his new 3297 Maybank Hwy space to be the complete opposite of that, with intentional design choices to make Equal Parts feel welcome and comforting for those looking to purchase spirits. 

In contrast to a typical liquor store, Equal Parts is a large open space, with 10×10-foot windows lighting the store with Lowcountry sunshine, a tall 18 ft ceiling, open shelving along the walls, ceiling fans and greenery.

Equal Parts, according to Groetzinger, is designed to be a place where shoppers can feel like they can ask questions, learn and connect with other at-home bartenders. There’s also a designated three-seater tasting area for brands to come in and educate spirit shoppers. “I’ve been in the restaurant industry my entire life,” Groetzinger said. “So I kind of wanted to go into a liquor store, but feel like maybe I can hang when I am here, like it’s kind of got a vibe and energy to it. I want it to be a place where people can feel like they can sit down, look at a bottle and ask questions about it. From what I’ve found, there’s never a designated area for that to take place. So it’s kind of awkward – some guy standing next to a stack of vodka boxes, handing out little cups.” 

And it isn’t just the interior. In addition to the windows, the outside looks a little different than the standard liquor store too. Three red dots are the universal South Carolinian symbol of a liquor store. It’s a common-use signal, but not law — at least not now. According to City Paper contributor Robert F. Moss in a Southeastern Dispatch article, the red dots were used to work around a 1945 law, strictly prohibiting liquor store advertising. Since then, laws have relaxed, but the tradition still stands –  just not with Equal Parts. Instead of the familiar red dots, Groetzinger chose to display three lemon wheels, a common and popular cocktail garnish. 

In addition to an engaging customer experience, Equal Parts is the only Class B seller on John’s Island, allowing the store to sell to restaurants and bars.

“Nobody on John’s Island is doing it, so obviously we saw an opportunity there,” Groetzinger said. But the ability to sell to restaurants and bars expands on Groetzinger’s desire to build a “community-based” liquor store. “There’s more of a way to engage and also offer a consulting side of the business to help restaurants and bars create and develop their cocktail programs, too.”

Equal Parts Liquor Store is now open on 3297 Maybank Hwy. Ste. 302 and open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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