Richard’s Beverage Center continues to change with the times.

Dave Richard in one of the many coolers in his Plattsburgh store.

Dave Richard in one of the many coolers in his Plattsburgh store.

— From the road, Richard’s Beverage Center looks like a small mom & pop store, but inside, you’ll find one of the best assortments of craft beers in the North Country.

In fact, Richard’s got its start 51 years ago as exactly that; a small, neighborhood grocery store. The store was started by Edmund Richard, the father of current owner Dave Richard. When Dave Richard bought the store from his father, they were barely taking in any money. Richard did however see one part of the store that was making money: fishing tackle. So, in the early 1980s, Richards switched primarily to fishing tackle, and became one of the biggest tackle stores in the Plattsburgh area.

Tackle was so big, in fact, that Richard started putting additions on his store. Then, when the air base closed in 1995, they took most of his tackle business along with them. Richard was once again forced to make a change to keep his business viable.

“We talked to some of our salesmen, and they said why not sell beer cheap,” he said.

He already had two small coolers from the grocery store days, and added to those to accommodate the beer. Along with his growing selection of “cheap beer,” Richard started adding a few higher-end beers, and they took off immediately. He added more craft beers to his stock, and has recently started selling single bottles of the most expensive beers.

“You can buy one bottle to try it out, then if you like it, you can come back and buy the whole four-pack.”

His mostly family-staffed business has grown well beyond his south Plattsburgh neighborhood, with customers from all around the region making a special trip to Johnson Avenue, or stopping by while vacationing in the area, for his beer selection.

“I get people from all over; Vermont, New Jersey. I have Canadians come down for the craft beers.”

With five distributors, if Richard doesn’t have the beer you want in stock, chances are good he can get it. He gladly special orders beer routinely for customers.

“I still enjoy it,” Richard said. “I’m 66 years old and I still enjoy it. The lugging isn’t fun any more, but that’s what I have employees for.”

Richard’s Beverage Center is located at 71 Johnson Avenue. They are open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

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