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Meet Axel Geittmann of Mission Control Liquor Station in Lower Highlands

Today we’d like to introduce you to Axel Geittmann.

Axel, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In the Summer of 2015, my business partner Patrick Tullos and I sought to create a business together with the goal to enrich walkability and grow community in Lower Highlands, Denver through retail. Our neighborhood had changed so much over the last ten years and one thing we both felt the neighborhood lacked was a wine/beer/spirits store which celebrated the culture around the amazing products our great state produces. A neighborhood as walkable and as food-centric as LoHi deserves a store where patrons could get the most sought after releases, hyped up bottles and the best value, all packaged in an ego-free and education-focused experience.

Patrick and I both come from sales and marketing backgrounds. Patrick works globally in communications for Adidas and I own/operate a sales and marketing agency focused on outdoor, resort and lifestyle brands. Mission Control is a passion project for us. Through our lens set, alcohol is the great equalizer in social settings. It crosses class, culture, and age. The social and culinary aspects of this industry are intriguing and exciting to us both.

We modeled our Liquor store to be the exact opposite of a traditional store- Spotlessly clean, modern design, open, well lit and fun! Mission Control is focused on local products, though we certainly bring in the most sought after beer, wine and spirits from across the world. Our role as proprietors of the culture is to offer discovery to our patrons. Nothing is more satisfying than helping our neighbors discover their new favorite beverage.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
All new businesses face challenges. This is reality. For us, right from the start, the city was the biggest holdup. Denver is a great place to start a new business- No question; however, the best advice I can offer is to plan on everything taking 2x longer than expected. This is your baseline.

Building a strong customer base can be tough- especially when authenticity is important. Sometimes marketing feels non-authentic. We have focused heavily on social media presence and in-store marketing to drive authentic following, but are now looking to expand into mailers and email updates to update our best customers on what is new in the shop. I don’t think any new business can market enough. It is always a chase and a challenge.

The biggest challenge recently is the new law passed allowing grocery stores to carry full-strength beer. It’s frustrating seeing sales slip in this department. Fortunately, our shop’s focus on the hard to find collaborations, limited releases, and seasonal offerings keep us somewhat insulated. I can say we’ve definitely felt a negative impact in this department since the law passed in January. It’s a shame because this law migrates profits out of state and into large corporate pocketbooks. Colorado can do better. As a community, it’s important for neighborhoods to shop locally and within walking distance. It builds social interaction amongst neighbors and encourages positive synchrony.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Mission Control Liquor Station story. Tell us more about the business.
Mission Control is a full departure from a traditional liquor store concept. When someone imagines a liquor store, they typically think of floor to ceiling boxes, stacked shelves with no real shopping plan, shifty-eyed staff, and bars on the windows. We took great pleasure in designing our concept with inspiration outside of this traditional “package store” mentality. It all starts with the customer. We imagined a shop where anybody could walk in and quickly find what they were looking for but would choose to spend extra time shopping because the feeling and flow of the store felt great.

With this in mind, we took meaningful cross sections from a broad sampling of retail concepts and applied it to Mission Control. A few examples of this to share: For in-store way-finding, we took inspiration from Ikea. Clean and easy flow. For wine pricing, we looked at how H&M sells tee shirts. Each tee shirt rack has a set price point and multiple color options. The racks progress in price by easy to understand increments. Our wine selection is sorted in a similar fashion by varietal, shade and our price points are easily understood. We have the least intimidating wine selection and yet still manage to offer over 300 different bottles to choose from. To celebrate scarcity and rare social items, we looked at Supreme NY. They do arguably the best job on the planet with collaborations and rare releases. We work hard to offer our guests the hardest to find bottles and even work directly with our vendors to create exclusive offerings such as the rye barrel aged still cider we produced with Stem this year.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality. – Eliyahu Goldratt

Pricing:

  • We offer wine discounts starting at three bottles

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Sara Ford

Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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