The Shortstoppe, a welcoming 50 by 40 foot liquor store located on South Clark Street is one of three popular venues where Albion College students purchase alcoholic beverages. Dave Young, Albion resident, took over the business eight years ago from his father.
The Shortstoppe has successfully shrugged off competitors over the years and established itself as the premier choice among liquor stores in the town. It offers an eclectic collection of beer, wine and hard liquor and, as described by Dave, customers have a “rainbow to choose from.”
Over the course of an interview Dave emphasized several times he enjoys what he does and relishes the daily interactions he has with college students.
“I feel that it is essential to know your customers on a personal level through fun conversations,” Dave said. “It’s really fun to see new young faces every day, and the conversations are by far the best parts of my job.”
Given that the college is a huge part of the town, most of the local stores tend to aim their business strategies at the college students. As expected, Dave also orders and stocks up to match the demands of the student body to ensure they find what they want.
“Burnett’s and Smirnoff seem to be the top two choices among students, so I try to order a lot of those,” Dave said. “Every day is an order day, but I usually keep around 20 cases of Burnett’s and roughly 30 Natural Light cases because that’s what the students want.”
Aside from strategically boosting his inventory to ensure he maintains his customer base, Dave regularly tries to freshen things up with new deals. “We tried to do something different by starting a lottery which significantly increased our foot traffic.”
And traffic is dense every weekend.
“Normally right after dinner, students come in waves,” Dave said. “There is definitely more circulation when fraternities have parties, but our loyal customers usually come in regularly throughout the week.”
With this general pattern, one would expect his business to be relatively quiet during holidays when students leave campus. “Naturally, it’s not as busy,” Dave said. “Nevertheless, the town’s people really support us too, so even when students aren’t around, we do get customers during holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Fourth of July and New Year’s.”
Mike Eskau, a recent Albion College graduate was one such regular customer.
“The Shortstoppe is in a prime location – very close to the campus,” Eskau said. “Dave is very welcoming. He’ll hook you up with deals and will always give you honest recommendations on what to purchase.”
Even though there are other stores vying to be the number one choice for students, Dave claims he doesn’t try to compete with the other party stores.
“It’s very important to have good relations with fellow local businesses,” Dave said. “They have their own local following, and we’re going to do what we do and hope our customers keep coming.”
Although Albion College students may feel they couldn’t do without the Shortstoppe, one also can’t deny the fact that Dave’s business depends heavily on the college. When asked, Dave was quick to acknowledge the important role the college played in sustaining local business like his.
“It definitely goes both ways,” Dave said. “I would like to think the student body needs me as much as I need them. I think the college does a good job in supporting the town’s businesses. ”
At Albion, almost everyone knows who Dave is. “Dave’s store” is a local slang and Dave himself has become something of a local celebrity due to his popularity among fraternities.
Photo by Aayush Shrestha