Our June issue of Beverage Dynamics magazine recognized the Top 100 Retailers, including Westport Whiskey & Wine in Louisville, KY. These beverage alcohol retailers represent the best of the best in the industry.
Westport Whiskey & Wine takes “a hedonistic approach to how [they] sell whiskey, wine, beer and other spirits.” According to Chris Zaborowski, Westport is “the place to discover items that are hard to find and items you’ll come to appreciate as day-to-day favorites. In the Tasting Room, we offer the opportunity to taste, learn and explore with winemakers, master distillers and others who take pleasure in the little treasures we have in our store.”
“We carefully curate our wine selection to offer a vast array of great values to the hard to find,” Zaborowski says. “Our selection is constantly changing to meet the needs of our customer. That is one reason why we are constantly shifting the wine sections. We are constantly working with our distribution network to help wineries find an outlet to bring products into the store.”
Westport boasts a wide selection of products, and also trains employees to properly manage this selection. All new employees work with a manager for a day and then shadow senior staff members, as they get the hang of things. New workers must then complete the Certified Bourbon Steward training program through the Stave & Thief Society. They then get the reap the benefits of working at Westport with free tastings and store-hosted classes.
When discussing customer communication strategies, “we focus primarily on direct email to communicate sales and promotions, with limited social media promotion via Facebook and Instagram,” Zaborowski says. The store hosts events every Monday and has regular sales on Wednesday. Occasionally, Westport will have a “Friday Flash” to showcase a new product, such as a single barrel release, or a new event or sponsored event.
The store does not do much in terms of print marketing but remains an active part of the community. “We have not had any real success with traditional print media,” Zaborowski says. “We also work with some minor charitable sponsorships to get our name out. We have had a successful collaboration with the Kentucky Distiller’s Association and promoting the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and we work with Louisville Tourism to promote bourbon experiences.”
Westport distinguishes itself by centering the customer experience around tastings. “We believe that the best way to learn about beverage alcohol is to taste it,” Zaborowski says. “Thus, we were the first to hold dual license (off and on) in order to offer customers the opportunity to attend classes and tastings and to purchase glasses of hard-to-find whiskey. Our store is physically divided with a distinctive wine section set by varietal, spirits and beer section, and a Tasting Room for bar and classroom events.”