Nothing pairs more perfectly with the beach quite like an ice cold beer. Nestled at the base of the Wildwood Bridge, just minutes from the shore, Joe Canal’s Rio Grande is well known to vacationers and locals alike as the place to stock up before heading into the Wildwoods. The vast majority of their business done in just four short months, making it critical for the store to have a strategic plan to capitalize on every last day of the summer. Heady Times sat down with Chris White, Beer Manager at Joe Canal’s Rio Grande to learn more about their plans for the 2018 selling season down the shore.
Heady Times (HT): As a seasonal account, how do you plan ahead for the summer?
Chris White (CW): It is very important for us to have the right product mix in our store going into the summer season. If we do not choose the packages that our customers want, it could take us until mid-July to sell through – and that’s half of the season. We work with closely with Roy Abrams, our Kramer Beverage sales representative, to ensure that we are carrying the highest velocity items and are using our floor and shelf space as efficiently as possible.
HT: How do you make the best use of your cooler and floor space?
CW: Our window to make money is short, so we have to set up the store in a way that maximizes profits. Instead of using the prime locations on the floor for the top sellers or loss leaders, we generally reserve the space for higher-end products with a better profit margin. As far as the cooler goes, we apply the same principles. Last year the Kramer Beverage team did a cooler reset. We worked collaboratively to ensure the proper layout and flow to maximize revenue and ensure customer satisfaction at the same time.
HT: What products do you think will see the most growth this summer?
CW: We are allocating additional space for hard seltzers this year. Last year, Truly, Smirnoff, and other hard seltzers were on fire. We are planning additional space for them this year, both in the cooler and on the floor. Twisted Tea has consistently sold well at our stores for a number of years. Many other FMBs are also on a growth trend as well.
HT: What other industry trends will be important this year?
CW: Cans and craft. Cans are growing in popularity, and are especially popular in shore towns. Now that many craft breweries are offering their products in cans, it is a great opportunity for us to sell more profitable SKU’s. Last year we brought in Sierra Nevada 12 pack cans and displayed them on an end cap at the advice of the Kramer team. It worked out really well for us and is a great example of their win-win sales approach.
HT: A second Joe Canal’s store is opening in Cape May this year. Tell us more about it.
CW: Tom and Bill Feraco, the owners of Joe Canal’s Rio Grande, as well as Cape Liquors. After a complete rebuild, Joe Canal’s Cape May is set to open this month. The Feraco’s have worked hard to build the business at the Rio Grande location, and will surely continue to give customers the experience they are looking for at the all new Cape May location.