Our June issue of Beverage Dynamics magazine recognized the Top 100 Retailers, including Bacchus Wine & Spirits. These beverage alcohol retailers represent the best of the best in the industry.
The Top 100 Retailers launched in 2019. Businesses around the nation submit an entry form, including questions about size, marketing efforts, training programs, community outreach and growth plans. Each entry is reviewed by a panel of judges. Retailers chosen must demonstrate innovation, excellent customer service and superior beverage alcohol industry knowledge.
Many of the winners were recognized at the Top 100 Banquet during our 2022 Beverage Alcohol Retailers Conference, which took place this June at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando, FL. Nominations for 2023 Top 100 Award will open in November of 2022. Winners will then be honored at the Beverage Alcohol Retailers Conference in St. Louis in June 2023, and featured in the June 2023 issue of Beverage Dynamics.
Bacchus Wine & Spirits
Bacchus Wine & Spirits has distinguished itself for having a unique location and personality. Situated within a butcher shop in Millbrae, CA, it provides a customer experience centered around the local community. Owner and founder Quinton Jay recalls how popular tastings are at the store. Drinks paired with different cuts of meat from the butcher shop allow customers a unique experience. Of course, this came to a halt with the onset of the pandemic, so Bacchus had to adapt quickly to an entirely digital environment. Ecommerce was the name of the game, but it wasn’t always that way.
Jay remembers, “To be honest, pre-pandemic, only 1 or 2% of my business was online. So many of our customers wanted that in-person experience, so it wasn’t really necessary, up until, of course, the pandemic hit. Luckily, the POS system I used had an ecommerce module. I took all my employees and had them help populate the module with photos and product descriptions. Within six weeks, we had a full-fledged website up and running. I was amazed.”
Jay diversified his ecommerce strategy in a bid to stay relevant with consumers. “We use ecommerce in two ways. First, we’re a fulfillment partner with Caskers in order to drive volume. And then we’re also building our customer base ourselves, through the shop.”
Ecommerce was able to thrive because change came rapid fire as everyone scrambled to catch up. Regulation, an area notorious for being slow and frustrating for the industry, had to evolve quickly in order to help businesses stay afloat.
“Restaurants were allowed to start selling wine,” Jay says. “That opened Pandora’s box, as it were, because the lines have become quite blurred as a result. But I’ve also been a beneficiary of this. Before, the laws were quite draconian about where you could and couldn’t serve alcohol. During our tastings, I couldn’t even have people out on our patio. With the pandemic, all the gloves came off. I was even able to do tastings in the parking lot! From that aspect, I’ve been able to expand Bacchus in that way, but I do think all those regulations that were relaxed will be pulled back. It’s just in the nature of regulators to pull back.”
While the shop has endured many changes and employed many ecommerce innovations over the past few years, as the pandemic began to abate, they had to return to familiar strategies. “I’ve had to retrain my employees about becoming a retailer again,” Jay says. “We had to pivot back to being a brick-and-mortar business; it was essentially starting over again.”
“I had to look at my store and figure out what I was going to keep and what I was going to jettison,” he adds. “I looked at what was profitable and what was not.”
Profit is obviously the marker of success for a business. But when asked to define success within the industry, Jay was somewhat dismissive of the usual numbers game. “My biggest thing is still having fun,” he says. “Once the business takes over your life and you don’t control it anymore, that’s unsuccessful. It’s also important to be able to employ great people.”
Jamie Stafford is the editorial associate at Beverage Dynamics. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her recent piece, Why 2022 is the Summer of RTDs.