Drink Local: Furlong's Liquor provides Minnesota brews with a side of civic spirit


In addition to many big-name brands, Furlong’s Liquor prides itself on its wide variety of Minnesota craft beers, wines and liquors.

Furlong's offers wines from every corner of the world; members of the Wine Club can sign up for a monthly bag containing at least two bottles, tasting notes and recipes for pairing.

After 32 years in business, the Furlong brothers have brought people together inside their store and out in the community

 

Terry Furlong is the co-owner of a liquor store, the mayor of North St. Paul and even a former prince — the Prince of the East Wind in the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Such seemingly disparate professions converge at Furlong's Liquor, located just off a busy intersection on Highway 36. 

For Furlong, the impulse that drove him to open up shop is the same impulse that has driven him to community service: a love of other people and a desire to make an impact where he lives.

"When you have local ownership, especially retail, you meet so many people. And I've always been a volunteer, even through high school," says Furlong. "It is all community based."

In the 32 years since he opened up shop with his brother Dan, Furlong has been a member of the North St. Paul and Oakdale economic development commissions, the North St. Paul City Council, the Lions Club, and the Knights of Columbus. He's raised his two children in the area, coaching youth sports and hosting a myriad of tasting events to fundraise for local causes.

When he's at the store, Furlong often mans the register or browses the aisles, offering recommendations and getting to know regulars. At the back of the store, in the Minnesota Room, there's a rustic wooden bar set up where the brothers host fundraisers and frequent Wine Club events. 

Furlong's Wine Club is a monthly subscription service. On the first of every month, members are able to pick up a bag with at least two bottles of wine, tasting notes and recommended recipes for pairing. Members are also able to attend special tastings and get-togethers. 

Putting on events that bring locals together over good food and good wine is part of what Furlong loves about his job. Although, when it comes to personal preference, he jokes that he's "more of a beer-drinker."

Next to the tasting counter in the Minnesota Room, underneath the watchful eye of a mounted walleye, Furlong stocks suds from countless local and state breweries. It feels like there's an exciting new release almost every day, but it's worth it to Furlong to keep pace and promote the thriving local market.  

After a third of a century, Furlong credits the store's longevity in part to the active role he and his brother have played in the surrounding area. 

"Civically, we've been very involved. I think people appreciate that and shop local, shop with people who care about their community," he says. "They know who you are, they understand you more."

It's easy to understand Furlong's love for the Northeast Metro; actions speak louder than words and he's got an impressive track record. There's also an evident devotion when he talks about the store's customers and the community that he's been a part of through the years. For Furlong, the words "civic" and "spirit" go hand in hand. 

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