Does Big Lots Sell Alcohol? (All You Need to Know)

Do you know if Big lots sell alcohol? Well, you are at the perfect place to find the answer to such a question.

Big Lots is known for being a place to find a wide variety of items at great prices. But being a bargain store sometimes means they don’t always have certain things in stock, like alcohol or seasonal items like air conditioners.

Big Lots stock varies based on a number of factors, meaning things like alcohol may be found at some Big Lots stores, but not necessarily all of them.

This article explores the sale of alcohol in Big Lots stores across the country.

Does Big Lots Sell Alcohol?

According to the Big Lots official website, alcohol isn’t among the list of beverages offered for sale. You can get sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks or different types of coffee, but there’s no listing of any alcoholic beverages offered.

The only alcohol that can be found on Big Lots official site is Rubbing Alcohol, used for treating injuries.

Does That Mean Big Lots Doesn’t Sell Alcohol?

Although the official website doesn’t list alcohol for sale, there have been reports of selected Big Lots stores selling Beer and Wine in certain areas.

Areas like California and Central Ohio both have Big Lots stores that sell liquor and there are rumors that other locations may also be on track to obtain liquor licenses.

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What’s the History of Big Lots and Alcohol Sales?

Big Lots has its main headquarters in the Columbus area, with stores spread all across the country. However, the store has historically only sold liquor in some of its California locations.

As of 2011, however, Big Lots announced their intentions to expand their liquor sales, to increase revenue options.

At the time of the announcement, Big Lots had applied for Liquor licenses for 6 stores in Ohio, including Cincinnati and Cleveland.

At the time of the announcement, representatives said they would be selling liquor in ‘select stores’ but provided no further information on what criteria determined which stores were selected, or what further steps would be taken.

In 2013 there were rumors that Big Lots had applied for liquor licenses in Virginia. However, there has been no further report on that front either.

Since then, there’s been no record of further expansions into the liquor market, and it’s unclear as to whether they’ve continued the program or scrapped it entirely.

Why Would Big Lots Not Sell Alcohol?

Big Lots is a Discount Store, also sometimes referred to as a Liquidation Store, and much of its stock is produced by overstock or out-of-season inventory from other stores.

Alcohol is a popular item and frequently sells reasonably well in the regular stores to which it is supplied. It’s rare to have a great deal of overstock in this category, and it’s never an out-of-season item.

This leaves only discount brands of alcohol, frequently beer and wine, to stock the shelves of stores like Big Lots or Dollar General, or other Discount Stores.

Discount brands of alcohol are frequently less popular and don’t necessarily sell well enough to justify stocking them.

At least, not in all locations.

Why Would Big Lots Sell Alcohol in Select Locations?

There may be business opportunities in certain areas that make the sale of alcohol a viable and profitable part of Big Lots inventory.

For example, there are an estimated 4.774 wineries and breweries in the state of California, far more than are operational in any other state.

With that much alcoholic beverage production so close, it makes sense for Big Lots in the area to take advantage of the readily available resource.

Likewise, it makes sense for California to sell any overproduction through discount stores in the area, where they can avoid shipping costs and liquor taxes or fees other states might impose.

Attempted expansion into Ohio makes some sense, as it’s the home state of the Big Lots chain, there’s just a question of whether or not it’s worth the cost, and if Big Lots can find local suppliers to keep the costs down.

What Was Behind the Decision to Try and Expand Sales of Alcoholic Beverages in Big Lots Stores?

Many discounts, thrift, and liquidation stores have been attempting to branch out into the alcoholic beverage sector. Ironically, it’s for much the same reasons that success has been so variable.

Alcohol is a popular purchase item, and many stores find it to be a steady source of revenue, even if it isn’t the main focus of the establishment.

It’s for this reason that grocery stores and retail stores have established sections offering the sale of beverages such as beer, wine, and mixers for drinks like margaritas, or flavored ‘hard’ drinks, like hard lemonade.

These beverages have a low alcohol content and are relatively inexpensive, but they can bring in a fair amount of cash.

The common consensus is that Big Lots considered selling alcohol as a potential method to boost the sales in its grocery department, which isn’t known for producing as much revenue as other departments of the store.

Will I Find Alcohol in Big Lots in the Near Future?

If you’re looking for Rubbing Alcohol? Absolutely.

If you’re looking for some discount beer or wine? Maybe, maybe not. There hasn’t been much mention of further attempts at marketing alcoholic beverages since 2013, so Big Lots may have decided to choose another route to boost its profit margins.

Or it may be a policy that’s taken on a location-by-location basis. Some areas, like California, might be good places for Big Lots to incorporate alcoholic beverages, whereas others might be less favorable.

What Would Make a Location Less Favorable for Big Lots to Sell Alcohol?

There are a lot of factors that go into determining if an area is viable for a change in marketing.

Distance to a good source of the product is one. So are the costs of a liquor license in a given state, as well as the cost of training employees to handle the sale of alcoholic beverages in accordance with federal and state laws.

When it comes right down to it, the sale of alcohol in Big Lots is a question with no simple answer that applies universally.

Odds are, your local Big Lots probably hasn’t stepped into the alcohol market yet…but you’ll only know for sure if you make a visit and take a look for yourself.



Lindsey graduated with an MBA in 2009. Since then, Lindsey has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Lindsey is also the head writer and Co-founder of Lindsey is based in Morgantown, West Virginia.

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