Right on the main road that guides residents and visitors through the heart of La Vergne, you’ll see a sign bearing possibly the best name of a liquor store in the modern history of mankind: City Sliquors. The owners are not exactly the three gringos led by gruff but lovable Curly on a cattle drive through scenic western states. But they do know how to wrangle up a great store name and how to build a successful retail business.
When Jeremy Sargent walked into a meeting with the other two owners – Trey and Kevin – he was there to suggest a name like “Destination Liquors” around which to build a marketing campaign. But when the name “City Sliquors” was stated, Jeremy said, “You win. Why did we even have this meeting? Let’s go to dinner.” And City Sliquors was born, debuting in LaVergne on October of 2013. As the owners were stocking their first inventory, the first customers walked in and asked if they were open. Jeremy had change in his pocket, but no money yet in the cash register. The couple bought a bottle of Grey Goose vodka, signed the first dollar spent at the store, and the dollar remains tacked up on the wall as its proud first exhibit.
Another exhibit open to the public view are the signs decorating an outside wall of the store. City codes thankfully allowed the addition of the decorative signs as an “art exhibit,” essentially adding a visually inviting decoration to the store that’s fun to see.
Jeremy is a long-time connoisseur of liquor establishments. Prior to opening City Sliquors, he served as assistant manager of Wine and Spirits Unlimited on Waldron Road from 2002 until they closed in 2012. Jeremy said the store’s downfall was due to a trifecta of challenges, including the construction to widen Waldron Road, the opening of liquor sales in Smyrna, and a tort law passed by the state that didn’t allow businesses to sue for monetary damages, only physical damage. Jeremy said that had the store been able to sue the state for monetary damage and had they been able to recover just half of the losses suffered from the customer loss due to the lengthy construction project (customers didn’t want to wait in traffic for 20 minutes to reach the store), they could have survived. Ultimately, however, the store he now operates is doing quite well. They have three full-time staff, two part-time workers, and two fill-in workers.
Jeremy said one bonus of working at the store is that workers and many customers are like family. Staff were hit hard earlier this week when a longtime customer named Paulette Morgan died unexpectedly. “She was a sweetheart,” said Jeremy. “She was a loving, selfless person. Her loss hit the crew hard.”
Store employees also show they care about their customers, especially when they come in showing signs of having already been drinking. Jeremy said everyone makes bad decisions sometimes, so if there is a customer who shouldn’t be driving, they offer to drive them home themselves or convince them to be picked up by family or by a taxi. Jeremy said 100 percent of the time, the customer has come back and apologized if they have acted inappropriately.
“We are willing to help them,” said Jeremy. But they don’t go too far. If a customer comes in under-age or if they have been drinking and/or visibly drunk, no deal. In addition, if a customer has previously asked the store not to sell to them no matter what they say, staff will not sell any alcoholic beverage to them.
Because of talk about crime in the city by concerned citizens and because of the nature of the business, I specifically asked Jeremy if he was concerned about or if the store has experienced crime. Jeremy said they have never felt threatened because they have high-definition cameras everywhere inside and outside the store. “There is no part of the store that is not under surveillance,” he said. The typical retail establishment experiences a “shrinkage rate” of 5- to 8-percent with bigger department stores having an 8- to 10-percent shoplift rate. Jeremy said City Sliquors shrinkage rate is .5 percent. He credits this to strong training, observant staff, surveillance cameras, and LaVergne’s own police force. “LPD does a really good job patrolling. They will go into our parking lot, and flash their lights to let our crew know they’re there. We have never felt threatened by crime.”
Jeremy has seen the city go from small town to what it is today. He grew up here and has called LaVergne home for 37 years. Even though we talked extensively about City Sliquors, his real affection belongs to someone else – his wife, Amanda.
Jeremy first saw Amanda in high school at the summer band camp. She was in color guard and he played tuba when he saw her standing heads above the other girls (she is 6-ft tall). He asked a friend who the tall girl was because he was instantly enamored and told his buddy, “I’m going to be with her.”
Amanda has what Jeremy describes as an electric smile, “She’s so photogenic, her smile can make the room. There is no deviation. When she smiles, it is such a genuine expression. There is no avarice or ulterior motive with Amanda.” Jeremy and Amanda have been married for nearly 15 years, but the high school sweethearts have been together since January 18, 1994 – when he asked her out for their first date. Their commitment to each other is truly a love story for the ages.
Other Jeremy Facts:
- Walmart has been a boon to City Sliquors.
- Jeremy has three dogs: Khaleesi, Loki and Hank.
- Jeremy and his wife are indeed fans of The Game of Thrones.
- Jeremy believes in LaVergne we all live as neighbors so we’ve got to get along.
- Jeremy would love to run for public office but a state law prevents liquor store owners from doing this: An owner of a retail liquor store cannot be a public employee, either state, city, local or county. An owner of a retail liquor store cannot hold any type of public office, either appointed or elected, unless that owner is an uncompensated appointee to a municipal board or commission where they have no duty to vote for, overlook, or superintend the sale of alcoholic beverages.
"We Are LaVergne: Jeremy Sargent",