DC’s first nonalcoholic liquor store is open

DC’s first nonalcoholic liquor store is open

The growing nonalcoholic beverage industry has led stores that sell beer, wine and liquor to start stocking up on nonalcoholic beverages.

But now D.C.’s first and only store that sells exclusively nonalcoholic drinks is up and running at Union Market on a temporary basis — though this is a test run for a permanent store in the future.

Darryl Collins said that’s because he believes there’s a market for it. He owns Hopscotch Bottle Shop, a nonalcoholic liquor store in Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood.

“It’s been great. People have driven from Annapolis, Pennsylvania, D.C., Columbia — kind of all over — to come to the shop,” said Collins, as he prepared his pop-up, or in his case “hop-up” store to open in Union Market.

“People were coming up and they’d say, ‘Hey, when are you going to come down?’ So we figured, hey, we’re gonna do a ‘hop-up’ here at Union Market, kind of try it out, and see how it goes before we actually focus in a location down here.”

What stands out to him is that there isn’t a store already like his in the D.C. area.

In 2022, there was $11 billion in nonalcoholic beverage sales, he said. In 2023, the figure climbed to $13 billion — a 20% increase.

“Name another industry that has up to a 20% increase in one year,” Collins said.

“There are people who don’t drink for multiple reasons, whether they’re pregnant, whether they’re focused on wellness, whether they’re sober,” he said. “People don’t drink for a variety of reasons. And for some reason, it seems that people are not stocking it here in D.C. So we thought we will come down and share these options with our friends down here in the District.”

Hopscotch has a wide variety of nonalcoholic beer options — whether it’s stouts, sours, IPAs, you name it — to go with wines and spirits, including rum, tequila and bourbon. Most of the time, the spirits are made for mixing into cocktails, not drinking straight. And customers can sample some of the wines and spirits before they buy a bottle so they know they’ll like it.

“People will say, ‘Well, what’s the point of drinking a nonalcoholic beverage?’ But not everyone drinks to get drunk,” said Collins, who himself says he drinks alcoholic beverages sometimes. “Many of us drink because we like the taste of something, right?”

“I have more of a balance,” he added. “And that is our model, that life is about balance.”

Hopscotch is guaranteed to be open for at least a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the weekends, and he said the pop-up hours are likely to be extended beyond that first week if sales go well, at least until he can find a permanent store.

“If people want a store here in the District,” said Collins, “we’re definitely looking and willing to provide a store here in the District.”

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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