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Posted by on in July 2017 Editions

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From Mezcal to Mules, Here are 8 Cocktail Trends to Ride into 2018

By Jack Robertiello


Drink trends move as fast as a bartender pumping out Margaritas on Cinco de Mayo. On the other hand, is there really anything new under the sun? Hoping to keep up with the currents moving through the cocktail world right now, we checked in with top bartenders and drink consultants across the country to get their sense of the most important waves to catch. 

Click Here to check out the entire article.

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Posted by on in July 2017 Editions

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Erica's parents, forty-year veterans and restaurant owners, started her early in restaurants and she grew up involved behind the scenes and eventually on the front lines. During school at Community College of Baltimore County in Towson, she was already managing bars and working at a variety of bars and restaurants around Baltimore.

After graduating she did what most do and tried to find a stable desk job. Working in finance for an advertising firm was that job, but that wasn't for her. 

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Posted by on in July 2017 Editions

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By Jeff Cioletti


The bad news: Vodka is shrinking on the global scale. According to the Global Vodka Insights, a report from just-drinks and the IWSR based on 2015, the latest full-year data available, vodka’s top four markets—Russia, the U.S., Ukraine and Poland—all lost volume and value in 2015. And while the U.S. is expected to be essentiall, the others will experience further declines right through to 2021.The good news: Globally, vodka is pursuing a clear trend of premiumization, the report notes. More specifically, low-price and value sales are declining; the standard segment is flat; but premium and super-premium sales are increasing.And most relevant of all: vodka is still the biggest-selling spirit in America. And it continues to be available in myriad forms and formats, despite it being famously neutral at its core. Here are a few Q&A’s to keep up to speed on vodka today. 

Click Here to check out the entire article.
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Posted by on in July 2017 Editions

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Neutral profile calls for tasteful marketing

BY W. R. TISH


Vodka’s wave of popularity, which began last century, may be cresting, but it remains America’s reigning best-selling spirit, so keeping the section well-stocked is certainly worth the effort. Moreover, because vodka is supposed to be tasteless—promoting the spirit has always called on marketers’ keenest creativity.

That silver lining is exactly what is keeping the spirit vibrant in the marketplace. Either way, neutral or flavored, there are plenty of creative approaches at work today—which in turn provide the points of distinction that retailers can use in conversation, signage, social media, etc. To wit:

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Posted by on in June 2017 Editions

The Undiscovered Complexity in Rosé Wine

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By Kristen Bieler


Perhaps owing to its immense drinkability, rosé doesn’t invite the kind of contemplation reserved for the great red and white wines of the world. But just because it’s accessible, refreshing and often found pool-side doesn’t mean rosé can’t be complex.

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In April, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot announced the creation of the "Reform on Tap Task Force". After House Bill 1283 (HB1283) passed, the Comptroller's office began its fight to improve further legislation and remains an active oppositional voice. Mr. Franchot is a firm believer that more barrels and improved regulations will have brewers at the bank.

What's Actually In HB1283?

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How many restaurants can you name that have a fully functioning distillery actually inside their restaurant?"

It's a valid question, and one posed by Jon Arroyo, Beverage Director of the Founding Farmers Restaurant Group and director of the new micro-batch distillery that is custom-built inside of the company's newest restaurant, Farmers & Distillers in Washington, D.C. Dubbed Founding Spirits, the micro distillery churns out two tasty concoctions -- Founding Spirits Vodka and Founding Spirits Amaro -- using grains from farmers Arroyo and his colleagues have worked with in the past. Among them are Mark and Michelle Watne of Watne Farms in North Dakota and Billy Dawson of Bay's Best Feed in Virginia.

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Despite being crafted from one ingredient—sugar, either as cane or molasses—there may be no major spirits category quite as diverse as rum.  Having a handle on the types, flavors, and stylistic nuances of this extremely versatile liquor is invaluable when it comes to determining how to optimize crowded shelves, and how to guide patrons toward more educated buying decisions.

 Click Here to check out the rest of the article.

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Brown-Forman Retailers of the Year Recognized for Their Continued Commitment to the Beverage Alcohol Industry

Eighteen beverage licensees from across the United States were recently recognized as Brown-Forman Retailers of the Year at the 2017 American Beverage Licensees (ABL) Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nominated by their state beverage associations for their success and dedication to the beverage alcohol industry, these business owners were honored in a ceremony at the ABL Honors Gala on March 27, 2017.

 For more than two decades, the Brown-Forman Retailer of the Year awards have celebrated independent retail beverage business owners who engage in responsible sales and service of beverage alcohol, and who are committed to their state beverage associations.  ABL congratulates all of the honored businesses and licensees for their outstanding and continued contributions to the industry and their communities.

 "Independent beverage retailers support a dynamic and spirited industry, while also promoting and encouraging the responsible sale and enjoyment of beer, wine and spirits," said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich. "It is in this spirit that they are recognized with this award before their industry peers and held up as examples of success."

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After a successful career in the technology industry, Lori Keough was ready for a change.  A big change.  The beverage business!  So, in early 2016, she purchased the Barley and Hops Microbrewery and Grill in Frederick, and it's been full speed ahead ever since.

"I worked all the way up to being a vice president of software engineering," she recalled, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "But I grew up in the restaurant and bar business, so I had a decision to make."

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Posted by on in June 2017 Editions

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You probably have been hearing a lot lately about adding video into your marketing, and advertising. What you may be thinking is why you need to do this. There are a number of reasons, however, I am going to touch on just a few that I feel may be the most important for the restaurant/beverage industry.

Creating video for a restaurant today is quite simple. All you really need is a smartphone. This is a huge step for a lot of us because the cost of developing quality video content has been very expensive in the past. To start, make sure you have the ability to go Live from your Facebook page, or Instagram page. This will give a notification to people that follow your pages. This is a great way to grab an audience quickly instead of hoping they will see your post, or posts during the day. 

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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The dimly lit bar contains zero televisions and zero distractions. Generic wooden tap handles hide the brews on draft, and you won't find too many recognizable bottles on the shelf or the wine rack. With an encyclopedic knowledge of beer, wine, and spirits Ryan Travers will take you on a trip around the world and bring bartending back down to earth.

Ryan is part owner and bartender at Of Love and Regret in Canton, located directly across from The 'Natty Boh Tower'. Affectionately referred to as OLAR, the bar and bottle shop have been operating for almost five years. 

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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A NEW WAVE OF COFFEE-INFUSED SPIRITS, BEERS AND WINES BREW INNOVATION

BY DAVID LINCOLN ROSS

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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IN TODAY’S COMPETITIVE MARKET, HAND-SELLING GIVES SAVVY MERCHANTS AN EDGE

BY ZACHARY SUSSMAN

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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WITH SUCCESS IN THE U.S. AS TOP PRIORITY, GLOBAL GIANT PERNOD RICARD STEPS UP THEIR GAME

BY KRISTEN BIELER

A company doesn’t become the second largest wine and spirits supplier in the world by sitting still. The Pernod Ricard success story—which dates back to 1805—is one of continuous evolution and adaptation, and a keen understanding that what worked a decade ago may no longer be relevant today.

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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Arguably no spirit has seen the highs and lows of gin, across centuries and continents. History has seen it hailed as a societal scourge as well as a miracle drug. It has been a political tool, a soldier’s support, and famously “mother’s ruin.”Locales with rich gin history run from Holland (where it all started) to Italy (where they, too, claim gin started) to London (epicenter of than two-thirds of the gin in the UK) to Spain (where “Gin Tonics” have developed into a national specialty) and, naturally, to America.Here, artisans and big brands alike are riding a current upswing in gin momentum, both off- and on-premise, and with a tilt toward the high end. Meanwhile, the gin-sipping public appears increasingly open to the particular possibilities of gin, whose styles nowadays often take juniper as a starting point rather than focus.

 Click Here to check out the rest of the article. 

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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IS IT FINALLY VERMOUTH’S TIME? 
SUPPLIERS ARE RAMPING UP…

BY JACK ROBERTIELLO

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

 

Beer_Big_Tent.jpgCraft beer continues to punch above its weight value-wise, but volume growth appears to be slowing—rising just 6% from 2015 to ’16. “The era of 18% growth rates is probably over,” Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist, offered recently.  

That’s one reason big brewers continue to step aggressively over the craft fence. Between brand acquisition, product development, packaging updates and outside-the-box marketing efforts ... 

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Posted by on in April 2017 Editions

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TEQUILA CONNOISSEURSHIP EMERGES, TRANSFORMING IT INTO A SIPPING SPIRIT

BY JEFF CIOLETTI 

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While there is some debate over what is the king of red winegrapes (Cabernet? Nebbiolo?), Chardonnay is the undisputed queen of whites. The most widely planted winegrape in California, it is also clearly the most popular wine in the U.S., with sales increasing every year.

People love Chardonnay because it is generous—full of fruit and then some. It is sometimes called a wine-maker’s grape because it is so moldable; treatment in the vineyard, during fermentation and barrel-aging can dramatically impact style. Which is all the more reason to take a look at what makes this popular wine tick.

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Posted by on in April 2017 Editions

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David Metz is the Wine Director and Sommelier for The Jefferson Hotel in Washington, D.C.  and its affiliated restaurant named, Plume and cocktail bar, Quill. Coming up on one decade with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, David embraces the new challenge the Jefferson presents with the confidence he exudes.

David served as the sommelier at Bourbon Steak for a majority of his time spent with Four Seasons. Despite his own accomplishments he quickly honored his predecessors when asked how great of a challenge it was to take over the entire beverage program for the Jefferson saying, "I really inherited a candy store. There were two sommeliers there before me who really set the tone and laid the groundwork for what I consider to be a very impressive wine list."

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There's a classic moment in the movie "Top Gun" when pilots Maverick and Goose land their fighter jet, high-five on the runway, and exclaim, "I feel the need … the need for speed!"  Well, former Naval Flight Officers Arch Watkins and Mark McLaughlin have felt the need … the need for mead!  

Arch_Mark.jpgOK, more specifically the need for whiskey.  They are the co-owners of Old Line Spirits, a craft distillery now up and running in Baltimore and offering small batch whiskey made of 100 percent malted rye.  McLaughlin stated, "Arch and I were friends in the Navy and lovers of fine whiskey.  We met on active duty.  We also spent time in the reserves.  In the reserves, we were in the same squadron.  So, we became closer friends then.  And now we're neighbors in Baltimore.  Arch really couldn't avoid me if he wanted to!"

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Posted by on in April 2017 Editions

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One of the most mysterious social media outlets to many restaurant owners is Instagram. The restaurant owners that utilize it are seeing it pay large dividends.

The first thing to do is get familiar with the social media avenue and application. Because it is a mobile-based social media avenue it will need to be managed from your mobile device. However, software is available that can be used to schedule your posts from a desktop. Facebook purchased Instagram years ago, so it can be fully integrated with your Facebook campaigns.

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"To our knowledge, we are the only African-American liquor distributorship in the state.  That in and of itself is unique.  So, you want to build around that.  If you can get a niche in this business, if you can carve something out that's special, then you can be successful."

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Posted by on in April 2017 Editions

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On February 5, 2017, Edwin 'Eddie' R. Malin; beloved husband of Doris Malin and a long-time, highly respected member of the licensed beverage industry departed this world. 

I met Mr. Malin in 1993 shortly after Lee W. Murray, Publisher of the Beverage Journal, hired me ... 'Nice to meet you Mr. Malin.'  "Stop that 'Mr.' stuff, I'm Ed or Eddie.  Either is fine."

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Posted by on in March 2017 Editions

Brown goods are where the green is—
all the more reason to put more care into organizing your whiskies

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By Robert Haynes-Peterson

In Emmett, ID—a former mill town with a population of 6,500—Main Street Beverage is also a bait & tackle shop. The Roundup Bar down the street serves strong pulls of vodka or Fireball to actual cowboys, and a vested craft bartender is nowhere in sight. Yet at the liquor store, where once only Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam and Wild Turkey were offered, you’ll now find labels like Whistlepig, Bulleit and more. It’s not a big selection, but it’s evidence that today’s growing whiskey market reaches deep and across many lines. How you sell that whiskey is increasingly important.

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Posted by on in March 2017 Editions

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Ken and Matt Praay could've kept with their normal day jobs.
Instead they decided to give back to their city by becoming brothers in beer
as co-owners of Monument City Brewing Company.

The brothers Praay decided -- not so accidentally -- to begin brewing commercially after a series of fortunate events. Ken explained, "I started brewing at home in about 2006, long before [Matt] could even start drinking beer. It started out on the stove and he would get involved when he was home, and in about 2012 we started writing a business plan." 

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Posted by on in March 2017 Editions

It is an unfortunate reality that bartenders loathe cleaning the bar. With few exceptions they would prefer to take their tips and go home. On the other hand, allowing guests to sit at a filthy bar with their elbows stuck to the bar top is bad for business.

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Patrons will naturally presume that if the front of the house is unsanitary, the same is true for the back of the house, including the kitchen.

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Posted by on in March 2017 Editions

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Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro in Beltsville

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Posted by on in March 2017 Editions

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Some marketing professionals will tell you that Email Marketing is dead. Open rates for Email Marketing campaigns have dropped significantly in the last two years. A large reason for this is the launch of the many text programs that have been released.

My opinion of email marketing is varied. I believe if you utilize this tool correctly it will pay dividends to your business … even when the time comes for your succession plan or exit strategy.

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Posted by on in March 2017 Editions

What's Behind The Irish Surge?

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These are the best of times for Irish whiskey, which represented 1.4% of the spirits overall U.S. spirits market in 2015. May not sound like much, but 10 years earlier that figure was 0.4%.  Of course, the Irish boom has been famously brand-driven, with Jameson not merely in the driver's seat, but essentially helping fill up the whole car, having deftly in recent years expanded the brand’s Expressions to include reserve bottling and special finishes, most notably Jameson Select Reserve and Caskmates; and Jameson Black Barrel made a splash with its launch in 2016.

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Posted by on in February 2017 Editions

TO STAND OUT FROM THE PACK, RESTAURANTS ARE SHAPING THEIR WINE LISTS IN PROVOCATIVE WAYS

BY JIM CLARKE

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Champagne is a portrait in irony. Inarguably an icon of luxury, the liquid itself is more like a silk purse made from a sow’s ear; the now-famous method of nurturing a secondary fermentation in the bottle effectively compensates for the inability of grapes to ripen consistently in the (extremely) cool region. And while the grapes are farmed by thousands of small growers, production remains dominated by a relatively small number of Champagne houses. Champagne has not made headlines since the turn of the century, when fears of a Y2K shortage loomed (and proved unfounded). The price tag led Champagne to lose market share as the Recession played out; but while it has slipped from its 11.4% share of the sparkling wine market in 2005, it has held steady at 8% since 2010, according to IWSR, and posted a 3.5% growth in sales from 2014 to 2015. 

  Click Here to check out the entire article as it appeared in The Journal. 

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At the 2016 Army/Navy football game, event reporter Doug Mace caught up with Seth Jordan, founder of Dog Tag Brewing LLC, to ask about the impact of this heroic brew.

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The effects of September 11, 2001 spread far across the globe and to every American. In Los Angeles and particularly in New York, and everywhere in between, the country mourned the loss of thousands of innocent American lives. In the aftermath many people's lives were changed forever.

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Dan Colasurdo wears many hats and in his experiences has worn some that you would never guess. From service staff, to owner, to manager, to script writer and back again, Dan is a great example of the importance of balanced, educational and experiential learning that can be so successful in the food, beverage, and hospitality industry.

Since growing up in northern New Jersey and working in a pizzeria, Dan worked around food from a young age. While attending school at the University of Maryland he also worked at a local bar honing his service and bartending skills. By the ripe age of 24 he was already the operating partner at a restaurant in Silver Spring, Maryland called Cafe Bello. 

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I hear all the time from clients, friends, and family of how they are going to do things different in the New Year. They are going to update their restaurant, spend more money on marketing, and improve their customer service and staff. However, I have always been curious as to why they are waiting until a specific time to make the decision to do these things. Stop thinking of how you are going to market your restaurant or liquor store online, just do it!

Many online marketing gurus will give you a litany of do’s and don’ts. I am simply going to give you some pointers on how to start, and/or improve what you are already doing. 

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Harbor Wines is bringing the richness of Eastern European wines to Maryland.  At the helm of this venture is Cristina Tufts, who grew up in Moldova where she learned the art of viniculture. Moldova, a small country that borders Romania and Ukraine, boasts especially fertile soil that makes it ideal for growing some of the world's best grapes.

"My family made wine," Tufts said, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal. "Therefore, I grew up learning the process.  Ironically though, I never had an appreciation for Moldovan wines until I came to the United States.  Here, I had better access to wines from around the world.  . . . It took leaving Moldova to realize just how good our wine is."

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From a farm dog at an Austin, Texas brewery to a brand that self-identifies as Vodka for dog lovers, Tito's brand Vodka exemplifies a pair of passions becoming a national favorite. Furthermore, Tito's shows how successful people can contribute so positively in a variety of different mediums.

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Posted by on in January 2017 Editions

 

Cape South Coast, An Emerging Collection Of Maritime Regions, Represents The Country’s New Winemaking Frontier

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The 2017 General Assembly Session is upon us and, as always, the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA) is gearing up to play a big role in looking out for our industry's interests.  As in years' past, one of the key players will be attorney and MSLBA lobbyist Steve Wise.  "I think the industry continues to have a significant presence in Annapolis," he stated, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal, "and that helped us out on a lot of legislative fights last year as it usually does.  That's true not just of the retail segment of the industry, but the Maryland-based wholesalers as well."

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It happens to every restaurant owner at some point. You wake up and get a notification, or one of your employees tell you about that customer from last night that left you a one star review on Facebook, Yelp, Google or another review site. We have all been here, you start running through your mind. “I hate Yelp, or this is just one of those customers, or why wouldn't they tell me there was an issue while they were here?”

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At this point you are pondering on the wrong issue. The real issue at hand is how do you respond? How do you deal with this customer that has had a less than satisfactory experience?  Let's start with the review itself.  Read it thoroughly and try to remove any emotional heartstrings while doing so. Try to see it from the customer's perspective. I know that this may be difficult, however we have all had bad service in one way or another at some point. Once you have read and reread the review, look for evidence of fake or malicious sentiment. Has the customer ever reviewed any business before? If there is evidence of fake or malicious sentiment you need to move your attention to flagging the review. Only flag the review within the review page in question if you do in fact see this type of sentiment. 

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Posted by on in January 2017 Editions

 

The ‘Sessionable’ Concept Finds Footing In The Cocktail World, Not Just Beer

 

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By Jack Robertiello

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Posted by on in December 2016 Editions

 

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Brandy is the oldest of the distilled liquors; and Cognac is considered brandy’s highest expression. There’s probably no other spirit that is so tightly linked with France as Cognac—which is odd when you consider very few French people actually drink the stuff. The hugely popular brandy is popular just about everywhere but France, as only about 3% of all of the Cognac in the world is consumed in its home country. But that just means there’s more for everybody else, and it’s enjoying some impressive gains in the United States these days. Shipments of Cognac to the U.S. grew a solid 13.6% in 2015, with gains being led by the largest suppliers.

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Fully Reinvented, Austrian Whites and Reds are Ready to Captivate Americans

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Please know that the Austrians are sick and tired of talking and hearing about the 1985 wine scandal—in which a lousy bunch of unscrupulous wine merchants added a chemical used in manufacturing antifreeze to their wines, in a ham-handed, criminal attempt to increase sweetness levels. That was over 30 years ago, and Austria long ago reinvented its wine industry with some of Europe’s strictest wine laws and quality-control procedures.

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Posted by on in December 2016 Editions

Huge, Fragmented and Peppered with New Products, The Beer Market Continues to Churn

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Beer has had an incredibly turbulent year, from the Big Guys down to the little ones. Buyouts, mergers and unprecedented growth in both breweries and SKUs have made the marketplace a confusing one for beer consumers and producers alike. In the process, the oft-abused term “craft” inches closer and closer to the brink of losing all meaning with respect to beer—even as wine-centric glassmaker Riedel delivered a stamp of approval to the beer biz by designing a special Riedel beer glass.

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OnPremiseOwensOrdinary_2.jpgGreg Engert and Sean Griffin might be a former English major and Engineering major, respectively, but they are giving Marylanders and Washingtonians alike an education in Maryland beer.  Both men have been key to the early success of Owen's Ordinary, Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s (NRG's) first restaurant in Montgomery County, which opened its doors on Oct. 17.  The 6,000-square-foot, 175-seat space delivers 50 different draft beers to customers, along with 150 beer bottle selections.  The bar focuses heavily on Maryland brewers, with around 75 selections from the state.

Engert serves as Owen's Beer Director (he is also a managing partner for NRG), and he has been instrumental in putting together the impressive selection.  "As far as selection goes," he stated during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal, "we've worked with the county and the brewers to offer a beer selection Montgomery County has never seen before.  It is an unparalleled selection representing the very best craft beers sourced from Maryland, from the broader region, from the Mid-Atlantic, and from the international scene. So, we have something for everybody." 

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For reference or Research, Quick Answers or In-Depth Articles, The Internet is the Place To Be For Your Retail Management Questions

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The best wine information is online; we all know that.  But which sites should you be bookmarking?  Most guides to wine websites are for consumers, not the industry.  Here are some sites especially useful to members of the industry ... 

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What catches the eye? Bright colors. Bold shapes. Moving objects. The products in our annual roundup of holiday gift packs are certainly colorful and boldly designed—and while we don’t expect them to literally jump off the shelves, they are built to move.

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The idea behind customized Value Added Packs (aka VAPs), as they are often called, is simple—and timeless: make gift-giving even easier for shoppers.

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Posted by on in November 2016 Editions

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Fast expanding local craft brews have again exploded across the United States over the last decade. Even with such rapid growth and concerns over a “tapped out” industry, many young entrepreneurs are still buying in and staying current, and seeing their thirst and effort pay off.

Tom Foster, Francis Smith, and Colin Marshall are the founders of Diamondback Brewing Company and grew together from homebrew to a full brewery located at McHenry Row in Locust Point. You may recognize beer names like Three Thirty Amber Ale, Omar’s O.P.A., The Bamb Black IPA, and others as part of the Diamondback repertoire. With their recent expansion and upcoming plans there surely is plenty yet to see.

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Posted by on in November 2016 Editions

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Communication between business and customer has never been easier than it is in today’s world.  With the additions of Instagram, SnapChat, and Facebook messenger a customer can ask a complex or simple question to your business in seconds. However, one communication avenue gets overlooked more often than not. I am talking about Text Messaging, and Loyalty programs.

A liquor store that implements a Loyalty and Text program has more opportunity then one without.  This gives your establishment the ability to keep your customers ‘in the know’ about new releases, current specials that are occurring as well as rewarding that customer for returning multiple times. I personally go back to the same liquor store every week because on my 5th visit I get something FREE. This particular store updates me via text of seasonal beers that are being released as well and this stops me from visiting other stores by keeping me loyal to their business with giveaways. 

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