BANDON — After its grand opening six weeks ago, The Beverage Barn is earning a reputation as more than just a liquor store.
It's an experience.
Formerly home to Bandon Pharmacy owned by Gina Swenson and her late husband Dave Swenson, the building has been completely transformed by owners Barry and Lori Osborne.
The hand-crafted wooden vaulted ceiling built by Barry has replaced the white cork board. Wooden beams accent the ceiling and floor space. Wooden shelving displays the vast amount of inventory in the store. It took Barry 15 months to complete the remodel, which he worked on every day, doing the majority of the work himself.
“About a year before we bought the building, we starting looking at real estate,” Barry said. “We wanted to expand because the town or even the county didn't have anything close to this. It's a big city experience with local flavor and service.”
Following a Western theme, the Osbornes have decorated with dozens of animal mounts displayed above the racks of liquor and wine, along with a special liquor canteen bottle collection that dates from the 1930s to the 1970s. The bottle collection was a gift to Lori from her "adopted grandmother" and her husband, Maxine and L.C. Tindell, and each has a story about how Maxine acquired it.
“The bottles have been such a tremendous hit, people just love them,” Lori said. “Maxine was here on opening day and she was just thrilled to see them displayed.”
A growling bear head is mounted above the Black Bear Growler Fill Station, which features a handmade wooden bar for customers to taste and fill from the 28 craft beers and ciders, plus an additional 12 taps with root beers, wines and Kombuchas, a fermented non-alcoholic tea made in Bend that has purported health benefits.
Monday through Friday from 3-5:30 p.m. is happy hour on any fill from the Growler Station.
The majority of the animal mounts came to the Osbornes from the McNeely family in Brookings who owned Whaleshead Resort. When they sold the business, they donated them so they could remain on display. Most of the world-class mounts are antiques, though 10 of them are more recent and local and were given to the Osbornes by friends.
Most of the beverages offered on tap are from the Pacific Northwest, and features include local beer from Arch Rock Brewing Co. in Gold Beach and 7 Devils Brewing Co. in Coos Bay. The root beers are from Oregon as are the six wines on tap, from Riesling to pinot gris to pinot noir. As with beer growlers, customers can bring in bottles to be filled, or purchase a bottle or hydro flask on site.
The store also offers soda and mixers, Taylor's jerky products, Wild West candy bars and made in Oregon gifts and candles with a western theme, among other products. In addition, the Beverage Barn carries an impressive selection of Benchmade Knives, made in Oregon City, and about 150-plus brands of cigars.
Then there's the wine and liquor.
“One thing we wanted to do with the new store is focus more on Oregon products, including Oregon spirits and wines," Lori said.
In addition to most name-brand liquors, the store carries more than 100 Oregon and Northwest liquors, including rum from Stillwagon Distillery on Seven Devils Road, also spirits from Brookings and Newport, the Willamette Valley and as far away as Joseph, and a cranberry liqueur from Stone Barn Brandyworks made with cranberries from Cape Blanco Cranberries in Port Orford.
The store also offers high-end Scotch and bourbons.
But the wines are the store's crowning achievement. The Osbornes have arranged the more than 600 wines with street signs paving the way. There's Everyday Alley, Bubbles, Italy Way, France Tollway, Southern Hemisphere, California Circle and Washington Parkway. The Oregon Highway includes a huge selection of Oregon red and white wines, with a special section for Oregon pinot noirs called Oregon Pinot Noir Place — “what Oregon wineries are known for,” Lori said.
“We are focusing on all our wines, but the pinots we plan on expanding by 100 bottles,” she said.
To allow customers to taste those wines before they buy, the Beverage Barn offers a wine tasting every Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., with live music and local snacks, such as Face Rock Creamery cheese curds.
Labor of love
The Osbornes have more than just a financial interest in the business. It's also a labor of love.
The Bandon Liquor Store has been in the family since 1971, owned by Barry's parents Wes and Tokie Osborne. Then, the store was located in the historic Masonic Lodge building in Old Town, where the Spirit of Oregon store is now. Wes and Tokie had the new building constructed in 1977 uptown on the corner of 11th Street and Alabama, on the same block as the U.S. Post Office. The post office also moved that year, from its building in Old Town now occupied by Foley's Irish Pub. And Bandon Pharmacy also was built in 1977, and moved from Old Town, where WinterRiver Books is now located.
When Barry's parents retired in 1994, he took over running the store, and purchased the building and business in 1995. Lori, as co-owner, has worked with Barry since then. They worked in the 1,500-square-foot building for 20 years, and had two employees. Now, they have 3,750 square feet of space and 12 employees, including Lori's father Cliff, who volunteers his time once a week.
Both Lori and Barry attended Bandon High School; Barry graduated in 1985 and Lori in 1991. Their daughter Abby, now 19, attended private schools and was home-schooled, then attended Marshfield. She just completed her first year at Southwestern Oregon Community College on a softball scholarship.
Abby runs the store's newly opened drive-through coffee window, which opens at 6 a.m. and offers a full line of espresso and smoothies, along with tobacco products, soda, Kombucha, energy drinks and more, as well as Taylor's jerky, muffins and other food products. There are daily $2 coffee drink specials. Alcohol is not available at the drive-through window.
Barry and Lori say the comments they've received about their store have been overwhelmingly positive.
“We've had people here from big cities, including golfers and tourists, and they are all just amazed and ecstatic to have something like this in Bandon,” Lori said. “We knew it would be well received, but people have come just to see the store."
“But our business is mainly locally driven,” she added. “We are kid-friendly and offer things like the Growler Station that rivals anything in Portland or Bend.
“It's one-stop shopping. This whole thing has re-energized us. It's been fun."
The Beverage Barn is open daily and all holidays except Christmas from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. The espresso window is open daily from 6 a.m.-7 p.m.