Right off of the Garden State Parkway in Ocean View, there is a place where tourists and locals alike pick up their celebratory drinks for the weekend. Gleeson’s Liquors, located right off of Sea Isle Boulevard, is the place to stop for the widest selection of beer you can find from a family owned and operated store.
Tom and Mary Jane Gleeson opened the liquor store in May of 2010. Since their opening, they have seen a great increase in sales as well as the rise in the ever-changing craft industry. Just take one step down their beer aisle and you’re sure to find your favorite brew, as well as the most absurd flavors of the week.
Shelley Lavis is the beer manager here at Gleeson’s. She’s been working at Gleeson’s since it opened back in 2010, and has been the beer manager for the past five years. Sitting down to chat with her, we were able to get a glimpse of what it’s like to decide which beers to bring into their market and how to effectively manage a team. If we were a customer walking into her store, her enthusiasm and knowledge alone would make us buy every beer she names.
Heady Times (HT): What drew you into working for the beverage industry?
Shelley Lavis (SL): My family actually knew the Gleeson’s and I needed a job once I graduated from college. I started off as a cashier and actually left for a bit, but I still worked here part-time. They ended up offering me the full- time position as beer manager. On top of the ordering, I also do the advertising. I went to school at Rowan for Communications with a minor in Advertising. This is a position I just fell into and it’s great that it’s what I went to school for. Plus, I love beer, so it’s just been perfect!
HT: What made you want to pursue a career in this industry?
SL: Well to start, the Gleeson’s and the employees here are great people to work with. I am very passionate about beer. Being able to purchase it on this level at pretty much my own discretion is a great opportunity. I’m gaining so much knowledge and experience every day from working here. With all of the beer out there, it becomes much harder to buy what you think will sell. I listen to my customers and my employees to see what they like and hopefully, pick something that really sells.
HT: How else do you get an insight as to what your customers like and don’t like?
SL: We just signed up for Untappd and that’s been really helpful to see new trends and popular products. Right now, there’s a big trend with local beer. Being verified on Untappd now, customers can rate and review beers that they bought here. Trying to be ahead of the trends is a lot harder, but Untappd has really helped us understand what people want.
HT: What style of beer are you really into now?
SL: I really like all styles of beer. I think, just like how you pair food and wine, it’s the same thing with food and beer. I like certain beer with certain foods, and it even depends on what type of mood I’m in! I’m willing to try anything really. Sours are starting to trend more, but they’re a little harder to find. I like them. I’m a huge fan of Belgian beers, but I’m willing to give anything a go!