CARMEL — In a time when many people are rethinking their drinking habits, two sisters are opening a booze-free store in their hometown of Carmel.
"Loren's AF Beverages," the first alcohol-free bottle shop in the Indianapolis area and second in Indiana, opens its doors on Carmel's Main Street in September.
The mocktail-enthusiast, sober-curious, or liquor-alternative drinker will find non-alcoholic beers, de-alcoholized wine, and zero-proof spirits at Loren's AF Beverages. Plus, everything in between, such as non-alcoholic mixers, like bitters and syrups. Many of the beverages at the shop are also vegan, gluten-free, and offer certain additives like vitamins.
Andrea Marley and Kristin Patrick, the founders of Loren's, tell WRTV that offering spirit alternatives to beer, wine, and liquor is "the future."
Just Right: The perfect name for a business that aligns
Although they enjoy the many tastes, styles, and events that are often incorporated only in alcoholic drinks, Marley and Patrick have never really been big alcohol drinkers.
Like many other folks in 2021 who went booze-free after a booze-full 2020, the sisters decided to commit to a year of no alcohol. But, as 2022 rang in, their passion for being alcohol-free had only grown when they read Lauren Sausser's article in Vogue, titled "Booze-Free Bottle Shops Are Making Dry January Easier Than Ever," which catapulted them into following that passion into entrepreneurship.
The sisters, who are each other's lifelong hype-women, are following in their father's entrepreneurial shoes. Their dad was the dynamic duo's original hype-man, who encouraged them to open a family business.
"He was an awesome businessman, and he inspired us," Marley said. "We've always wanted to start our own business," she continued, but said it never felt like the right time up until Sausser's article in Vogue.
Just 3 months after deciding to open their first business together, Patrick and Marley's father, Loren Dow Marley, died.
The sisters said they knew they wanted to name their first step on the path their father laid out for them to be in honor of him.
Just like his daughters, Loren was not a big alcoholic drinker either.
"I think I've seen him drink once," Marley said.
The business partners said after research into the new but fast-growing market of non-alcoholic beverages, they found it aligned with even more of their inclusive mission than they had anticipated.
"What's so cool is that so many of these business owners of these stores and these brands are women-owned businesses and Black-owned businesses, and we think that's outstanding," Patrick said.
Reexamining Your Relationship with Alcohol
"We want to disrupt the narrative that alcohol is necessary to celebrate, relax, or networking," Patrick said of Loren's.
She says drinking is becoming more about moderation and examining your relationship to alcohol.
In January, Drinks International reported that sales of no- and low-alcohol drinks reached almost $10 billion in 2021. And according to a Forbes article, that increase in consumer demand doesn't really have much to do with sobriety or recovery, as 78% of non-alcoholic beverage buyers still purchase alcoholic beer, wine, and liquor.
"What we're finding out is that people have relationships with alcohol that they're ready to talk about or they're ready to open up to us about," Marley said. "And this store isn't necessarily about sobriety or recovery... It is about taking a night off or it is about knowing you've got a big meeting the next day. So this is really for everybody."
Patrick says she, for one thing, has been examining how brands market to women who are mothers, often pushing them toward alcohol. She's part of a community that wants to challenge that "very intentional targeting of women," Patrick said.
"We want to challenge this 'mommy juice' culture,'" Patrick said. "This idea that women need alcohol to cope, or to prepare, or to feel beautiful."
For Marley, she's excited for people to learn how to make a unique drink that has nothing to do with alcohol; to take part in the creation process.
For instance, a drink developed by a company in Seattle, "The Pathfinder," has nothing to do with being an alcohol derivative, period, but instead is more of a hemp-based liquid.
"It's specifically designed to help you relax, and it's doing its own thing, and that's something I'm excited to see in the market," Marley said.
'Be a better host'
Diving into the entrepreneurship pool is not only about following their dad's legacy and their passion for non-alcoholic drinks, it's about inclusivity, the sisters say.
"Really, what this store is about is being a great host or hostess," Patrick said.
"We're very much equity and inclusion-minded," she continued. "This idea of being an inclusive hostess, this idea that everyone can participate. Because statistically speaking, you're going to have someone at your gathering who either chooses not to participate in alcohol or can't — whatever those reasons; health reasons, maybe religious beliefs — but you're including everyone."
Whether it's a fad or trend, or millennials and gen z are more health-conscious generations, it's best to be prepared, not assume or judge, and be accepting of everyone at the table.
The reasons for people choosing not to drink alcohol are wide and vast, as you may have once heard, to each their own.
The Loren's AF owners say they are avid small business shoppers and look forward to being a part of this sector while offering Indy-area Hoosiers a place to browse their boutique-styled bottle shop: A place where they can do things like taste gin alternatives and whiskey alternatives before making their purchase.
"We want to be a resource that we can help educate and say, 'Hey, just grab some tonic water, or 'I got something really special if you want to wow your guest,'" Marley said.
WRTV Digital Reporter Shakkira Harris can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @shakkirasays.