Carrie’s Corner: Jonah Naidoo, owner of boutique liquor store, Dry Dock Liquor

Joining Carrie Adams in her naughty corner is Jonah Naidoo, one of the founders of Dry Dock Liquor. The boutique store, situated in Parkhurst, is described by Naidoo as a “community business”. He and Carrie discuss surviving the Covid-19 pandemic as liquor vendors and what makes his charming little store so unique. – Jarryd Neves

Carrie Adams on Jonah Naidoo:

He is one of the founding members of a very trendy, niche retail liquor outlet in the High Street of Parkhurst. He and his partner, Martin Pienaar, have done an amazing job of weathering the Covid-19 storm. It’s not easy to be a retailer; it’s definitely not easy to be a retailer in the liquor space (at the moment in South Africa) and it’s even more difficult to be a retailer in the liquor space in a small shop.

Jonah Naidoo on why he went into the liquor industry:

This came out of a passion project. Martin and I were collecting wine, trading wine with friends and family. We thought we could do this. Little did we realise what we were getting into with retail. We went into lockdown as a traditional retailer. In the first few days of the lockdown, we were quite unsure of how this would all pan out and whether we would survive. We used the lockdowns to fuel the online market.

I think it played in our favour over that time. We were very lucky that people were looking online and we were available. Our online store has taken us from being a community store in Parkhurst and given us a national presence.

Jonah Naidoo on issues liquor retailers faced during the alcohol ban and lockdowns:

What stifled some of the trading, with excess supply and demand, was that the logistics and warehousing could not cope with the demand we saw in the industry. Often, when we went into the lockdown, we had very little preparation. We didn’t have that luxury. At some point, there was a shortage of champagne. As France went into lockdown, we weren’t able to get that over December. It was very tricky.

Jonah Naidoo on how Covid-19 has made the business more efficient:

I would say we’ve emerged digitally better out of Covid. I think we’re less reliant on a physical retail store than we were pre-Covid, which has been good for us. We have extended our presence nationally, as well. [Lockdown] really changed everything for us. It saw us compete with wine farms directly.

As much as we love and need them [as the retailer], that all changed. But I do think our industry needed a reset. The lockdown, inadvertently, did create some kind of constructive reset that we will see over the next few months and into the year. Certainly, we can see it in the supply chain, definitely in the wholesale market, and I think it’s going to improve the experience for the customer.

Carrie Adams on Dry Dock liquors:

Anybody who doesn’t know Dry Dock liquors – it’s just such a cute shop. You feel like you’re in downtown New York or London. It’s a little hole in the wall from the road in the High Street of Parkhurst. It reminds me very much of Norman Goodfellows in the old days when we used to trade off the pavement because the shop was too small to fit everything inside. That’s exactly what the store is now. You walk along the pavement and you see barrels, boxes, and glasses.

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