Beverage Dynamics

Beverage Dynamics July-Aug 2014

Beverage Dynamics is the largest national business magazine devoted exclusively to the needs of off-premise beverage alcohol retailers, from single liquor stores to big box chains, through coverage of the latest trends in wine, beer and spirits.

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16 Beverage Dynamics • July/August 2014 [ RETAIL PROFILE ] CRAFT TRENDS As with most retailers, Sherlock's works hard to make sure they are in tune with current trends; while fl avored vodka line extensions are slowly settling down, shedding the confectionery fl avors and becom- ing more fruit fl avor focused, the bourbon and moonshine boom is in play, especially as newer brands emerge. While Georgia has long been known as a gin market, Maske points out that's mostly down to the popularity of Seagram's and its fl avor extensions rather than a general upsurge, though there has been some impact as cocktail fans among their customers head for the higher end and specialty gins. "Craft spirits and craft beers are where the consumer is look- ing for new experiences," says Bryant. "That's one where the younger demographics' inter- ests lay - local, craft, small batch, even local moonshine." Atlanta is starting to become better known for craft beers and a new distillery is being built in the downtown area, so the two expect that part of the beer and spirit business to only increase in their area. "The number of brewer- ies that have cropped up in the past few years has been signifi cant around here," says Bryant. Sherlock's did try accommodating brew fans with a growler program at their Decatur store last year, but that was around the time the local market ex- ploded with independent stores that were growler-only, and perhaps because the local market was already fl ush with other beer-focused businesses, it didn't take off, and so they eliminated the program. But it's a sign they are willing to stay current. "We're always striving to make sure we're competitive not only in the state of Georgia but with all the other options available to consumers," says Bryant. "We work diligently to that end." KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH CUSTOMERS Sherlock's has always had a great area reputation for fi ne wine, but with wine as a whole only accounting for about 40% of business and with spirits increasing steadily its share of beverage alcohol, keeping in touch with customers about any changes, specials, new products and such has become the stores' main form of marketing, "Our biggest marketing effort is an organically developed customer list," says Bryant. "We send out weekly emails listing our specials and new products, perhaps along with some seasonal promotional ideas. We do some print advertising and, of course, we're on Twitter and Facebook and our own webpage. In Georgia, we can't sell online, so we concentrate on building the email database to promote special pricing, discounts, tastings and such on a weekly basis." Above all, the two execs fi gure Sher- lock's major advantage in the Atlanta area is the loyalty they've developed with both their customers and employ- ees - many have gone on to careers in wine and spirits at the wholesaler or supplier level — and the unique position of being both large and independent, a local retailer with a high level, national reputation. "I sometimes think of us as a sort of breeding ground — our people are passionate and tend to stay in the indus- try. It's a point of pride with us to be a part of that," says Bryant. "It's also a point of pride that we're local — we are local, artisan retailers with the advantage of a bigger corporate entity because of our size and scale," says Bryant. "A client yesterday was in the store and he made the point that he comes to see us because we're competitive in the market and have a great shopping environment, sure, but his point was we have a staff here to talk about what we sell and they know him," says Maske. "There are lots of customers who want per- sonal contact, and we build relationships that aren't available at a big box retailer." BD Besides offering an ample election of mainstream imported and domestic beers, Sherlock's also features a signifi cant inventory of craft beers. "There are lots of customers who want personal contact, and we build relationships that aren't available at a big box retailer." — Craig Maske

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