I’ve recently returned from a trip to New York. While away, I was really keen to explore the alcohol offering of New York’s convenience stores and local grocery shops, and look at how their bars do things that might be great to learn from.
The key things I took out for UK stores were simple, repeatable messages: advertise well what you sell, make your store easy to shop, and cater for your customers.
In the area I was staying in that meant middle-class, health-conscious hipsters, looking for late-night six-pack takeouts. Simple.
The best thing I saw though – other than the bar that let me pour my own beer, which was a fantastic novelty, but a very expensive hangover – was a bar I went to on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Jack Patel's built a ferocious local following for his brilliant beer range
Their draft menu, ever-rotating and drawn from local breweries, was 10-strong, but heavily skewed toward pale ales and saisons. As the sun beat down on the beer garden, crowds of people sipped from similar brews. A few were drinking the one porter they had on, even fewer the English-style bitter.
It reminded me of something that Berkshire retailer Jack Patel told me during the Independent Achievers Academy Retail Study Day. He’s built a ferocious local following for his brilliant beer range. How does he choose what to stock, I asked him. Do you rotate a few and have a couple of static lines?
“It’s all seasonal,” he said. “Up the porters and stouts during the colder months, red ales in autumn, pale ales and pilsners toward the end of spring and start of summer.”
So simple, but so brilliantly effective. Both New York and the UK have just enjoyed some magical sunshine. Make sure your sun-seeking customers know that your store has the right range to keep them smiling through the summer and beyond.