Welcome to Part 3 of our series that recognizes our 2018 Retailers of the Year. In this post we honor Boone’s Wine & Spirits of Colorado, Legacy Wine and Spirits of Arkansas, and the European grocery-store chain Lidl, which has recently expanded into the U.S.
Beverage Dynamics for the second time opened up its annual Retailers of the Year Awards to a nomination process, attracting entries from top retailers across the country. Many received nominated from wholesalers, suppliers and other industry vendors, while some nominated themselves. All were required to complete a detailed entry form that included financial information, product mix, staffing and training policies, advertising spend and community engagement.
After our editorial team reviewed the entries, we chose 32 retailers as the best of the best. They represent every part of the off-premise industry, from single-store operations to large regional chains.
Winners will receive their awards at the second annual Beverage Alcohol Retailers Conference in Denver. Congratulations to everyone who won, and good luck to the retailers who enter next year’s awards!
Bigger and Better
By Melissa Sherwin
Sometimes being the biggest isn’t enough. For Beverly Barnes and Geoff Moser, co-owners of Boone’s Wine & Spirits, it’s also about being the best.
As the largest liquor store in Eagle County, Colorado, Boone’s offers its customers the widest product assortment in the area. The business operates based on a community-focused model, with a store motto of “buying big, selling low and having fun.”
“Our relationship with our customers and our community is by far the most important thing to us,” Barnes says. “Our customers say to us all the time that the vibe in our store is so unique because it’s such a fun and welcoming place to be.”
One of the reasons Boone’s has developed such a loyal customer following is because the company is known for its commitment to the local community. As the title sponsor of the annual Screaming Eagle Golf Tournament, Boone’s helps raise money each year to benefit Eagle County public school scholarships. Staff members volunteer for the Salvation Army as bell-ringer fundraisers around the holidays and at other events throughout the year. Other fundraisers include supporting the area’s local 4-H chapter, Eagle County Rodeo and Mountain Rescue organization.
Boone’s is also very connected to its local environment. The store is based in the Vail ski resort community, and it capitalizes on the area’s outdoor mindset by bringing the spirit of outdoor adventure into a lot of its programming. Because Boone’s is based in a freestanding building, it features a large parking lot that is often used for store events and community fundraisers. An outdoor adventure board prominently displayed near the store’s main entrance prompts customers with activity-based questions such as “What’s your favorite thing to do outside during the spring?” Customers can interact with the board by adding their comments to it in chalk.
Despite her store’s size and reputation, Barnes says the one thing she’s most proud of is Boone’s constant commitment to trying new things to better meet customer needs. Business practices and programming are evaluated on a weekly basis, and changes are routinely implemented. This practice has paid off, as Boone’s continues to grow at a rapid pace. Customers know they can go to Boone’s and get the products they want, along with the expert knowledge of store employees (the company currently has five certified sommeliers on staff and runs comprehensive training programs for all staff).
Along with great selection and service, customers also rely on Boone’s to offer programs that add value to the overall shopping experience. A wedding registry program launched several months ago, which has gained popularity by word-of-mouth. A drive-by shopping program kicked off in April, permitting customers to pre-order and pay online, call or text the store when they’re en route, and park in a special spot in the parking lot to wait for a staff member to bring the order out to them. There’s no cost for this service, which is available for anyone to use.
“It’s great for moms with young kids who maybe don’t want to pack them all up just to take a quick trip into the store, or really just for anyone who’s in a hurry,” Moser explains.
Some programs have been retooled based on customer feedback. After Boone’s initially launched its loyalty program, the store conducted a customer survey to collect feedback and identify areas of improvement. Ultimately, the program was adjusted to yield to consumer preference. Instead of a traditional points-based system, the rewards program is now a cash-back model. Customers get 2% back on every purchase and can use the amount at any time. Moser says there are currently more than 10,000 active members of the loyalty program, and some of them have accumulated several hundreds of dollars of rewards on their accounts. Members also receive other e-mail communications from Boone’s promoting new products, upcoming events and special offers.
“We are implementing new ideas constantly,” Barnes says. “These take time and focus and are not put on the backburner.”
As a result, Boone’s customers remain happy with (and loyal to) Eagle County’s top beverage destination.