February 10, 2014

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Swig Keeps Thirsty Customers Refreshed

By Rachel Madison

February 10, 2014

“Wanna go get a Swig?” This is a common question asked among St. George residents who frequent the colorful brick buildings that house Swig, a business that solely sells drinks, smoothies, ice cream, shaved ice and cookies, and focuses on fast drive-thru service.

When the first Swig opened in spring of 2010, owner Nicole Tanner never would have imagined that her company would be where it is today. Nearly four years later, the company has expanded from one location to four—another in St. George, one in Hurricane and one in Provo.

Tanner’s husband, Todd, came up with the idea for Swig after realizing that something he had multiple times a day—a soda from a fast food chain—could be turned into a unique business.

“My husband was brainstorming ideas and he asked me, ‘How about we do just drive-thru drinks?’” Tanner said. “And I said I thought it was crazy enough to work. So my husband actually staked out Maverik and watched how many people walked out with just drinks. It was amazing how many did.”

Besides just selling drinks, Tanner wanted Swig to have fast, customer-oriented service while also providing a fun atmosphere.

“We were tired of being another number in a fast food chain drive thru line,” she said. “We wanted to start something where employees were super friendly, knew your name and knew what you ordered. We also knew what went behind a good fountain drink: a good cup, good ice and a good straw.”

After deciding on the drink concept, Tanner said the other offerings at Swig, such as the ice cream, smoothies and cookies, just fell into place.

“We knew we wanted to do a baked item like a cookie, and we knew not everyone drinks soda,” she said. “We made it so everyone in the car can get something they want.”

When the Tanners first opened Swig, cars were few and far between in the drive thru.

“People thought we were crazy,” Tanner said. “We never anticipated the amount of cars that come through that line now. But it really had to work. All our eggs were in that basket, and we’re very fortunate that it did.”

The most popular drinks at Swig are the “dirty” drinks. The drink consists of the customer’s choice of soda with the addition of coconut syrup.

“We’ve been doing the ‘dirty’ drinks from the beginning,” Tanner said. “Nobody had dirty before us, even though they claim they did. That’s why we say we have the ‘original dirty.’ The dirty Dr. Pepper is the No. 1 drink, but we dirty up a huge amount of drinks.”

The second most popular drink at Swig is called the Wild. It’s a Mountain Dew with mango puree added. Swig’s sugar cookies are also extremely popular, Tanner said.

“The sugar cookies we’ve also had from the start,” she said. “We were outsourcing them before, but we were selling so many that we’ve now got out own bakery. They are like our bread and butter. People will come just for the sugar cookies.”

Tanner hopes 2014 will be a big year for Swig. Another location in Draper is scheduled to open this year, and she’s got several other locations in the works.

“We anticipate six or more new stores opening this year,” she said. “We have a lot of customers in northern Utah and we’d love to have some more Swigs up there. We’d also like to branch out to surrounding states in the next few years.”

Overall, Tanner is proud that Swig has become a destination for residents and visitors alike.

“Swig has turned into its own brand, and that’s what we hoped for,” she said. “We wanted it to be an experience and our customers’ best part of their day. I can’t say exactly how we’ve created this, but I think we just branded it really well and were really fortunate.”

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