We recently launched a new interview series with retail buyers around the country. This week’s interview features Jeannine Babcock from Cordially YoursWine & Spirits in New York.

Tell us about your store(s).

Cordially Yours Wine & Spirits is a single location, bought in 2003 by Norman and Marilyn Benhatzel. In 2005, Norman sold his half, to my Mother, Marilyn. I immediately became her partner in the business. Our store specializes in Wine and Spirits with an emphasis on special orders, delivery to a 10 mile radius, all while becoming a Bourbon/Tequila destination over the last few years. We also have been awarded the designation of Top 100 Retailer by Beverage Dynamics Magazine for 2019 and again in 2020!

On the wine side, we have expanded our Organic/Sustainable selections ten fold and have plans to triple our “cold wine selections” with an addition of a new multi-door cooler. We also feature a wine chiller on site that has become very popular, affording our customers the opportunity to chill any product in 1-7 minutes!

 

What are some of the hot trends at your location(s) right now?

Bourbon is and will be the category that sees the most interest these days, however, we have seen a huge spike in Tequila and Tequila-related products, especially in the Ultra Premium segment. 

Canned everything has also been a rising category with seltzers, sodas and pre-made cocktails seeing huge demand and unfortunately lots of “out of stocks” recently.

 

How do you make decisions on new products?

We have approximately 20 or so salespeople we interact with weekly and monthly. They often come with new product samples and more often than not, our customers will inquire about new expressions or products! Social media allows for product information to travel rapidly. 

A recurring trend is that New York, specifically the Western New York area, sees new releases slower than the rest of the country. All that considered, it is not uncommon for us to order and stock 10-15 new products a week.  

 

What impresses you most in a new product pitch?

Line expansions are often easier for stores to accept and determine success simply based on previous sales trends and history, but to be frank, introducing a new product and making that product available in 50mls and not having “out of stock” issues out of the gate, makes for a happy retailer and even more happy customers. 

The rush to market with limited sizes and limited product will have us look for the next new product quicker than anything. Tasting and sample bottles are always a great addition to the new product pitch, without tasting the product, and no budgeting for in-store tastings, will also discourage a retailer from investing.

 

How has your business strategy changed due to COVID-19?

Covid-19 quickly changed the landscape of how retailers across the country conducted business, and we were no different other than we were already in the online and delivery arena, and had that technology and platform in place. While others were rushing to figure out the logistics on online delivery, we had the kinks worked out and even began expanding our radius to meet our customer demand. 

 

What advice do you have for brand owners at this time?

Keep looking forward, learn from what we all have experienced with this virus and how it has immediately changed the way people conduct business.  Hold a finger on the pulse of the retailers, ask questions and be seen. We find those that make face to face contact with us are more likely to remain on our shelves. 

One last point, do not come unannounced, make an appointment so we can give our full attention to your products!

Thank you for the opportunity to answer your questions! Cheers and may you stay healthy and happy!