Bootleggin’ Barzini’s brothers Clark and Edgar McGuire were already acclaimed entrepreneurs prior to purchasing their liquor store. In 2005, they won the Small Business of the Year award for their delivery service, Whateva’ We Can Deliva.’
“It was ahead of its time, but we delivered anything and everything you wanted,” Clark laughed. “We noticed that 70 percent of our sales were liquor and said, ‘Hey, you know what, let’s make a profit on the back end.’ So, we bought the store.”
The alliteration in their business’s name is no accident, Edgar said. “We knew we wanted Bootleggin’ in the name. For the second part, we wanted something with a B, but we didn’t want Bootleggin’ Bill or Bootleggin’ Bob. We’re big fans of the Godfather movies, and there’s a Don Barzini on there. We liked that name, and it just had a good ring to it.”
Bootleggin’ Barzini’s officially opened its doors in Coralville on Jan. 26, 2006. Nearly 14 years later, the store has torn down a wall, doubled in size and greatly expanded its liquor selection.
The McGuire brothers credit their success to carrying a broad range of products and sharing their extensive liquor expertise, gleaned from working in the industry for over a decade, with customers. They take particular pride in being able to service customer requests that other local stores can’t, special-ordering products that aren’t typically found in Iowa.
“Edgar and I are both here every day, and we talk to the customers and get to know people,” Clark said. “We’re a big part of the community around here, just from listening to the customers on what they’re looking for and staying on track with trends.”
In order to expand service, Bootleggin’ Barzini’s recently launched a website, three years in the making, that allows customers to purchase liquor products online. While the brothers considered opening more physical stores, they’re hesitant to risk their current success by expanding too fast.
“As a business owner, growing can be risky, and if you don’t grow properly or slowly, you can really put yourself in a pinch,” Edgar said. “We’ve been maintaining and building up a customer base and getting more unique products, focusing more on just doing what we’re doing right.
For the time being, the brothers plan to continue selling liquor in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area.
“The liquor industry is always changing, and we always have to evolve with it,” Edgar said, “It’s not easy, [but] I would say the customer service is above and beyond. Once we get to know your palate, we can help you find other things that you would’ve never tried on your own.”