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Changes are brewing in the Westbound and Northbound Liquor stores in Elk River. After serving thirsty residents for the past 18 years, Dave Potvin retired last December to seek his own happy hours. Under Potvin’s leadership, the Elk River municipal liquor operation became one of the state’s leaders in customer satisfaction and profitability.
The reputation and positive community impact were among a number of factors alluring to Joe Audette, the new manager hired in early January. Joe is a Rush City native and most recentlymanaged the municipal liquor operation in Windom, Minnesota. While both cities have liquor operations, it is where many of the commonalities end. Located in southwestern Minnesota,Windom is home to about 4,500 residents and their Riverbend Liquor Store is the only off-sale vendor within 20 miles. Joe, a self-described gregarious sort, focused on customer service, value,and innovation to get customers in the door and bring them back. “It’s hard to hide in a small community when you are six-foot-three with a distinctive, long, brown beard and an affinity for craft beer!” said Audette. Joe was very active in the Windom community, serving as their Chamber of Commerce President and working with local community groups. He also currently serves on the board of the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association, an organization charged to promote and support municipal operations. Under his leadership, River Bend Liquor received national recognition for innovative educational and product taste testing programs.
Audette got his start in the liquor industry as a liquor manager for Cub Foods before taking the position in Windom. He feels his experiences in the private sector with a large operation and undera microscope in a small town have given him a balanced view of responsible liquor sales and the value of municipal liquor operations to a local community. Joe and his wife, Ericka, a native of Pine City are actively searching for a home in the area as they prepare to sell their home in Windom so Ericka and their dog, Nika, and cats Chuck Norris, Hankand Blue, can make their move to Elk River and get Joe off the couches of his close friends in the area.
The Audette’s are excited to be part of the Elk River community. Joe wants to meet customers, get to know the people, community organizations, and build relationships. He has a love for craft beersand is a self-proclaimed nerd. Stop by Westbound Liquors and meet Joe, he welcomes conversation and looks forward to serving the people of Elk River.