The retail beverage shop I had decided to go, and visit was the Astor Wine and Spirits, located on 399 Lafayette street. Upon arriving at the store, the outside ambiance blended really well with the other buildings in the area, but also made its presence with a themed window display of wines as well as signs and a flag to allow the location to pop out. Upon entering the store, I felt like I had entered a supermarket made specifically for wines, seeing things that a supermarket normally had such as aisles and signs showing what were in the aisles, a customer checkout towards the exit and a customer service area where they held their tastings and information desk as well as a clearance section. Something I found interesting about the store was that alongside store tastings they also worked with Astor Sector located right above their store in order to teach people about wines and also held more wine tastings tailored towards wine enthusiasts.
For their wine set up, each country was properly labeled with the country in big overhanging signs and then individual signs were at the top of each shelf that held the wine from that region. Each wine had its own shelf talker and there was a separate storage area which held wines that needed to be stored in a colder temperature. Despite this overall, I felt that you needed to know a little bit about wine just to navigate the store where as the selection got more specific, it became more and more overwhelming even with the shelf talkers present near each wine bottle. However, their set up also has some benefits with the addition of things like staff picks and tons of staff members to help out their customers as well as a two information desks where customers can try and find something that fits their tastes.
I was lucky enough to interview one of their employees there during a busy time for them, setting up for their upcoming Italian wine tasting and sale. Jose, the associate we interviewed handled a lot of the guest relations and provided each guest with the information they needed to navigate and find what they were looking for within the store and provided me with a brief overview of how they ran their store. He explained that their store organized their wines by country then region and then grape variety. These wines came from one of their 25 state distributors who only deal with business in New York state and talked about how they try not to carry bigger name brands such as Yellow Tail, but rather try and support local and smaller producers if they can. Due to this, they carry some unique wines such as the Mia Prosecco their best seller, but also carry some of the staple big-name brands still such as the Veuve Clicquot Brut as it is something that is always requested. Through buying wines and creating relationships with local and smaller producers, Jose explained that they are able to provide both the classic staples that are always requested but can also provide alternatives from these smaller producers to sell more inexpensive and affordable wines for people to enjoy and maybe even buy again. For the most part he explained that over 70% of their inventory is from a local or smaller producer while the other 30% is comprised of the classic known brands and wines. Finally, he explained about their mailing list and class calendar which they try to promote in order to try and educate more and more people about the beauty of wine