NAUGATUCK — When Adam Lopez was thinking about starting his own business he knew he wanted to do something “cool.”
“I wanted to bring something local to the town of Naugatuck. I wanted to do something cool and innovative in this uptick that Naugatuck has been having of cool, popular businesses coming in,” said Lopez, who pointed to the recent opening of 66 Church Street and Club Comedy in the borough. “All this cool stuff has been going on so I wanted to add to it and put our two cents into that mix.”
Lopez’s idea was to start an alcohol delivery service where customers could call to place an order and have alcohol brought directly to their door.
The Naugatuck Beer Truck hit the road in December.
“Once we get a call, it is like ordering a pizza. We take your name, your age, your phone number, you location, and your order. We run to one of our partner liquor stores, pick up your order, and bring it to your door,” said Lopez, a 27-year-old Naugatuck resident.
Lopez, who has lived in Naugatuck since he was 6, feels the borough offers the perfect setting for this type of business. According to the 2013 census data, Naugatuck’s population is approximately 32,000 and the town is about 16.5 square miles.
“Population density alone puts us in a terrific spot for it. We can get from one side of the town to the other in no more than half an hour. So it’s kind of the perfect market to test it out in,” Lopez said.
Lopez said the idea of an alcohol delivery service has been tried in other municipalities in Connecticut, such as North Haven, but because of the population and the size of the towns, it didn’t work.
The Naugatuck Beer Truck has a storefront on Meadow Street, but it does not actually sell anything out of it. Rather, the storefront is a call center for the company, Lopez said. Currently there are three employees, Lopez and his two partners, David Sabal and Michael Sherwood, who are both from Naugatuck.
“It’s something where we wanted to keep it just us three for right now because we really wanted to get to know the customer base. Every single interaction and situation we are in, we wanted to see it for ourselves because, at the end of the day, we are the ones calling the shots,” Lopez said.
Lopez said the idea for an alcohol delivery service was solidified while he was working on the campaign for Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess. Lopez said they discussed ways of making Naugatuck more of a destination than a place people simply pass through.
“We really wanted to make it a cool place to come. A lot of people and a lot of businesses have been trying to do that. People have been very forward thinking in the community, which is terrific. A lot of people have been trying new things and supporting new businesses. We felt like we are at the zenith of people embracing new businesses,” Lopez said.
Lopez feels the Naugatuck Beer Truck can also help to keep borough streets a little safer by keeping people who have had a few drinks from driving to a liquor store.
According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2013, 10,076 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
“If we can cut down the number of people that are driving on the road after having even two or three drinks then we feel like we are doing our part to help better the community,” Lopez said.
Whether an alcohol delivery service or a brick-and-mortar package store, the concern about selling to minors remains.
Lopez said it is up to the drivers to verify that a customer is of age to drink. If the driver does not feel comfortable handing over the alcohol, he or she is able to deny the sale at that time, he said. In addition, if the driver feels the recipient is too intoxicated, the sale can be denied, he added.
“We will take the order right back to our shop and they will not receive the order because at the end of the day it is about safety,” Lopez said.
Lopez said the company may expand to other towns in the future, but for now he wants to make sure it continues to run well in Naugatuck.
“Right now Naugatuck is our main focus and our cornerstone,” Lopez said.