The BDLive! Conference is the only national event dedicated to the off-premise beverage alcohol industry. Once again, nearly several dozen beverage alcohol retailers gathered in Dallas at the Crowne Plaza Downtown for the third annual event, held on February 14.
‘I really enjoyed the topics discussed and gleaned much from all the presentations, ‘ said Hermen Key, VP of Operations at Texas-based Spec ‘ s. Jeff Jansen, owner of Van ‘ s Liquors in Illinois, concurred. ‘ This is my second year attending and once again it was a really great conference, ‘ he said. ‘ The information was useful and the content was right on. I look forward to next year! ‘
The event began with the opening-night ‘ I Love Dallas ‘ reception, which featured the Dallas Bar Stars, local mixologists who created signature drinks created for the Cheers Beverage Conference and BDLive!
The following day ‘ s events opened with remarks from Beverage Information Group Executive Vice President and Group Publisher Charles Forman. He introduced emcee Darryl Rosen, a management consultant and no stranger to the off-premise beverage alcohol industry.
Paul Santelle ‘ s keynote, ‘ How to Survive ‘ and Thrive ‘ as an Independent Brick-and-Mortar Retailer, ‘ offered advice for keeping up with warehouse and online competitors. Santelle is the President of the New Jersey Liquor Store Alliance and the owner of Garden State Liquors. ‘ I have 50 stores within five miles of mine, three of which are warehouse stores, ‘ he shared with attendees. Among his advice for how to compete in a crowded marketplace? ‘ I started going to competitors ‘ stores and talking to the customers there. And I ‘ ve made adjustments to my own store based on their comments. ‘
This year ‘ s retail panel, moderated by Darryl Rosen, featured Mark Notarius, co-owner of Premier Gourmet in Amherst, NY; Brian Rosen, COO of Evolution Wines and Spirits in Chicago; Jim Dean, owner of Hazel ‘ s Beverage World in Boulder, CO; and Paul Kaspszak, Executive Director of the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association. A hot-button topic was social media. ‘ I can tweet from my car that we have a new release, and by the time I get to the store we ‘ re sold out of it, ‘ Brian Rosen offered. Dean took a more holistic approach to social tools. ‘ Twitter can move the revenue needle, but Facebook can increase brand awareness, ‘ he said. ‘ You want to capture as much customer information as you can, whether it ‘ s a text number, an email address or a Facebook profile. ‘ Kaspszak offered a sobering reminder to those who haven ‘ t adopted the latest technology of what awaits them. ‘ If you ‘ ve been in this business for 25 years like I have, the biggest adjustment you ‘ ll need to make is learning social media, ‘ he said.
Following a town hall forum in which attendees asked the panelists (and each other) questions on any topic of their choosing, Charles Forman presented Mark Notarius with the 2013 Beverage Dynamics Retailer of the Year Award. Notarius accepted the award on behalf of Premier Wines and Spirits, which is owned by his father Burt, and Premier Gourmet, which he co-owns with his brother Jon. Both stores are located in Amherst, NY and together received this year ‘ s award.
Laura Welsh, a client director with Nielsen, wrapped up the morning session with the latest beverage alcohol research report: Transform Trends into Sales. Among the key takeaways from the data was a reminder that flavored spirits are still on the rise.
After lunch, Harry Schuhmacher, the editor and publisher of Beer Business Daily, provided an update on the beer market, with a focus on craft brews. Adam Rogers, a senior analyst with the Beverage Information Group, provided a different spin on beverage research during his presentation, ‘ How Advertising Influences Brand Selection. ‘
Finally, Bill Alford, president of the International Lighthouse Group, provided a sobering reminder that deterring theft is an important part of being a retailer. Through his first-hand accounts and video evidence, he showed just how innovative shoplifters and employee thieves can be.