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Greater Tulsa Reporter

Bohannon Family Business Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Contributing Writer

B&B SMILES: The Bohannon family is all smiles as they celebrate the 25th year anniversary of B&B Liquor Warehouse, which they opened in 1993 near 71st Street and Mingo Road in Tulsa. From left are Sara, Brian, Dixie and Joe Bohannon.

LESA L. JONES for GTR Newspapers

Joe and Sara Bohannon, owners of B&B Liquor Warehouse, bought their first store when they needed a supplemental income for their family of four.

Now, together with their son Brian Bohannon and their daughter-in-law Dixie Bohannon, the family business has three locations and is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Quite the entrepreneurs, the couple had no previous experience in the spirits business. Joe had an engineering degree from Oklahoma State University and 16 years of experience in the oil and gas industry and was starting a new consulting business.

At the same time, he and Sara were looking for some kind of opportunity for Sara that would provide consistent support for the family and put her business degree to use.

“We needed a regular income because we had teenage children,” Sara said. “And so we decided a small business would give us a steady income until he got established and I could run a small business.”

Before starting B&B Liquor, the couple purchased Ajax Liquor and owned it for 17 years until they sold it in 1993.

“We wanted a business with the fewest number of employees,” Joe said. “So when we were looking at businesses, we looked at liquor stores and hardware stores because they could be run with the fewest number of employees.”

Sara says at that time liquor stores were pretty simple to run.

“When it gets delivered you pay for it, then when somebody buys it and they pay for it,” she said. “Before credit cards everything was great, there was very little bookkeeping involved.”

“And, everybody who comes into the store buys something!” Joe said with a laugh.
Initially, the couple worked together and learned all about the business. When the oil bust occurred, his consulting opportunities were diminished and the Bohannon’s put even more sweat equity into the store.

By the time Joe was 48 years old, they had enough employees to run the Ajax Liquor Store, and so Joe earned his law license and became a practicing attorney. Likewise, Sara became his legal assistant with plans to eventually sell the store.

However, their son Brian had other ideas.

While attending the University of Tulsa College of Law, Brian needed a job and started working at the family business.

“A year into law school he said, ‘We’ve got to get out of this little store and into a big store.’ So that’s why we’re here,” Sara said with a laugh.

They built and opened their first store, B&B Liquor Warehouse at 7002 S. Mingo Road, in Tulsa, 25 years ago this month with Sara Bohannon as the owner. After one year, they were so successful they added an additional 1,200 feet onto the building until they ran out of real estate space at that location.

In 2009, the Oklahoma State laws changed allowing a husband and wife to own two stores. Then, the Bohannon’s built B&B South at 2828 E. 91st St.

Next, Dixie Bohannon, wife of General Manager Brian Bohannon, bought B&B Broken Arrow located at 1000 N. Elm Place.

Though each store is owned by a Bohannon family member, Dixie says each store is run separately and has its own distinct personality and flair.

“For us, it’s family first, but each of us has our own view of how things should be run,” Dixie said.

She says they all provide a sounding board to each other when they have new ideas.
They also say the most challenging aspect of the family working together is leaving work at the store when they are together for family gatherings.

Sara says it’s sometimes hard separating business from family.

“When you’re in business for yourself, it’s a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week business,” she said.

However, their family bond and business acumen help each of them relate to the other person’s job, more so than most.

“You don’t feel so tied down to the business,” Sara said. “You know you can count on and depend on each other.”

At 82, Joe is still a practicing attorney and Brian has his law license but doesn’t practice. Their legal backgrounds have been pivotal in the family’s success in navigating the complicated liquor laws that have taken effect since they bought that first store.

“Their legal minds are a godsend,” Dixie said.

In celebration of their 25th anniversary, each of the stores will offer a number of giveaways to their loyal customers.

Updated 12-17-2018

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