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An interview with Aqxyl Storms, owner of Minus Moonshine

In this blog post we talk to Aqxyl Storms, the owner of Minus Moonshine. Aqxyl opens up about their own experience with quitting drinking, what motivated them to open a non-alcoholic bottle shop, and gives us an insight into the economic challenges of running a small business.

Q: Hey Aqxyl, how are you doing today? 

Aqxyl: I’m doing great!

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. What's your story?

A: I’m originally from Los Angeles, California. I grew up mostly in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My parents are artists and musicians. And they raised me to be a good person! I worked as a chef and a yoga teacher, I’ve worked in optical as an optician for a long time, I’m a musician, and I have a long history of retail and retail management.

Q: So, you own a non-alcoholic bottle shop - and you stopped drinking yourself. What motivated that?

A: I’ve stopped drinking multiple times over the past 20 years, sometimes for up to three years at a time. But I always went back to drinking. For example, as a musician, when I go play a show, they give you drink tickets, and so I would just, you know, get a whiskey soda and move on with my night. But I was always having a lot of trouble with my sleep, and I got frustrated that I felt tired all the time. At the time, I had just turned 40, and I don't have kids, but I was always exhausted!

So I started looking at what I was doing food and drink wise. With my jobs that I've had, I always ate late, so I knew I shouldn’t eat so late, and then I also cut back on drinking. But it wasn't until I fully removed alcohol that I saw improvements in my sleep.

Q: What prompted you to start a non-alcoholic bottle shop?

A: I wanted to do Dry January and started discovering non-alcoholic alternatives that didn’t exist the first few times I tried to quit drinking. But they were really hard to find. And in New York City, you should be able to buy everything when you want it. So I decided to open a store that had all these drinks!

Having worked in retail off and on for my whole life, it was fairly easy for me, I really didn't need a blueprint or a guide. I intuitively knew what to do. And I felt like this was something I had to do, I felt like there's got to be a need for this. If I need it, somebody else needs it! I also taught yoga for years and I used to be a chef. So health and wellness was always kind of a focus for me, not just in my life, but also helping others make good decisions and take care of themselves.

Q: The non-alc space seems to be booming at the moment, there's new brands popping up all the time, stores all over the country, non-alcoholic pop up events everywhere. How's that impacting your store?

A: We’re a small independent business and we're still growing. I am not able to pay myself from the shop all the time and still work a part time job as an optician, and we have loans to pay off. We don’t have investors though, which gives us the freedom to really be more community focused. Obviously, we have a business so we need to make money to survive, but we really can do it our way. We don't have to answer to anyone, the man doesn't stick it to me. I stick to the man. 

Q: Who takes care of the shop when you’re working your other job?

A: My fiancé, Juan (Beltran), is here several days a week. He’s a trained professional photographer and has experience managing an e-commerce business, that’s where his expertise comes in. He also remembers every detail about the different drinks and brands. And he does our social media!

Q: What’s next for Minus Moonshine?

A: If we’re able to, we definitely want to open another location if we find the funds for that, and spread the love. Spread the joy!

Q: Any parting words?

A: Shop small, because when you shop small you support people and not corporations!

Q: Woo hoo! Thanks Aqxyl for this fantastic interview!

This interview was written by Sam Bail, owner of Third Place Bar NYC, and published on the Third Place Bar blog in September 2023.

During Sober October, we’re hosting a weekly Sip&Shop experience at Minus Moonshine. Join us every Tuesday (except Halloween) from 5-7pm for a complimentary drink while you stock up on your favorite non-alcoholic beverages!