Often I find myself following the sales in order to find the best bargain. With beer the prices are often similar across the board with the larger big box shops selling a buck less a six pack than the independent shops and the grocery stores typically having the best deal on a six pack. The issue with that becomes the grocery store selection is limited due to shelf space where the independent and big box store have more room for a larger selection. I gravitate to the independent and large chains and bounce between both. I support the independent whenever possible in this case to keep them in business and the large chain whenever there is a screaming bargain. At times beer which is $9 a six can be discounted to $12 a 12-pack and they also may have coupons. Be sure to follow your favorite independent on Facebook to know what is coming into inventory and become part of any loyalty club at your large chain. I often save 20% when I buy $50 at the large chain and that allows me more bang for the buck.
For wine I find the large chains and big box offer the best prices, but you need to check the two to find the absolute best deal. For instance one of our favorite wines is $2 less at the big box than the large chain, but another is $4 less at the large chain. Another large chain routinely has 20% off 4 bottles and if you couple that with wines on sale you can get some screaming bargains. The three I use the most are Cost Plus World Market, Total Wine, and Costco. You may not have any of those in the area, we were recently in Ohio and none of those were close by so we had to settle on a local liquor store to find some wine. Not the ideal situation for bargain hunting.
As far as spirits we are tied in NC to an ABC system which has the same prices statewide. The only difference store to store is the sales tax. So finding a bargain in NC requires knowing what is going on sale at the ABC store. That is pretty simple, just check the specials page of one of the county ABC websites. At times the deals can be good, but the list for January 2016 is abysmal in NC. In some states you can find liquor stores attached to large chain and big box as well as liquor store chains and independents. I find the best deals are large chain and big box attached stores which have limited selections and then check the independents. For me it is easy because I know what the NC prices are so anything less is a deal. I’d suggest you check pricing online to get a base and know what you are after before heading out because pricing can vary widely. A $75 bottle of Bourbon in NC when you can find it is only $55 at a large chain in CT. Why CT would get the same thing as us for $20 per bottle less is a mystery, but it tells me there are some screaming deals out there is you are diligent and seek them out.