From a diner to a distinctive liquor store, the evolution of Mississippi’s liquor laws have helped shape Kiamie Package Store into the successful business it is today.
The family-owned company started when founder Alex Kiamie Sr. moved to Oxford, MS in 1952 to open a diner (aptly named Kiamie’s). Although the original building now houses a Domino’s Pizza, back then, dining options in Oxford were limited and Kiamie’s became a staple, the company states.
Kiamie Lanes ( a bowling alley), a laundromat, a car wash and Kiamie Package Store were born in the changing times. In 1966, after the end of Prohibition in Mississippi, Kiamie Sr. purchased a liquor license. The liquor store is now the oldest operating package store in the state.
A Third Generation Family-Owned Store
In the early 1990’s, the torch was then passed to Alex Kiamie Jr. A graduate of Ole Miss and former cheerleader for the Rebels, Kiamie Jr. took the reins and expanded the business to new heights, the store’s website states. Today, Kiamie Jr. is retired but still oversees the operations of the business.
Now, Kiamie Package Store is owned and operated by Alex Kiamie III, or affectionately known as “A.J.” He was raised in the family business environment, which helped give him a lot of expertise to be able to run the store today.
A.J. also has 12 years of experience in the wine and spirits business. As a Sommelier, he has helped set up many of the restaurant wine lists in the Oxford area and also hosts wine and liquor tasting events for charities and local groups, the company states.
The Oxford location will be Kiamie Package Store’s one and only spot. “The state of Mississippi does not allow more than one retail location per family or company. This helps to protect small business owners,” A.J. says.
A Treasure Trove of Alcoholic Beverages
With a selection of over 1,500 wines and thousands of spirits and cordials, Kiamie Package Store’s inventory is a treasure trove for liquor and wine enthusiasts. Its selection includes gins, vodkas, whiskies, wines, brandies, cognacs, tequilas, schnapps and many others, according to the store’s website.
During the holidays, A.J. says that wine is a category that thrives due to most customers purchasing bottles as gifts for loved ones. Throughout the rest of the year, bourbon is quite popular, with enthusiasts on the hunt for the best brands and latest offerings in this category.
Staying Alive During Trying Times
Covid-19 impacted many brick-and-mortar retailers, and Kiamie Package Store had to adapt fast in order to keep its doors open. Home delivery and online ordering services with full inventory access soon went into full swing so customers could still purchase their favorite beverages while staying safe. It’s still a quite popular way to shop at the liquor store.
Covid-19 isn’t the only thing that has impacted Kiamie Package Store. “Being a college town, we tend to lose half our population for the Christmas and summer months,” A.J. notes. “Our focus has always been on our local customers. We love the student population and the football fans, but the only way to weather the slow times is to give exceptional consistent service to your locals.”
Kiamie Package Store also promotes itself through social media, print and radio publications, as well as through sponsorships to keep business flowing. No matter what comes their way, Kiamie always manages to keep family at the forefront.