Author: Nicholas Mastalerz, BSU student
Question: Why did you chose this line of business?
Answer: After joining the army reserves back in 1998 Jim began working a part time job at a local liquor store. He began in a low-level position that he describes it as “in the beginning it was tough, a lot of manual labor and bottom of the barrel stuff.” However, he started with “one of the best guys in the industry, who was tough as nails...an unbelievable businessperson and as I saw that I thought this was really something I could get a hold of.” Part of what makes Jim and Seaside so successful is “even on holidays with family, I am constantly selling and talking about new products…that’s how I know I’m in the exact field I plan to stay in for the rest of my life” The passion that Jim has for his job is evident to everyone of his customers.
Question: What was the toughest thing you went through when opening? Especially in an industry with so much competition, almost no product differentiation, and no room for price discrimination.
Answer: Since there is very little price differential between liquor stores Jim said the most challenging task is “convincing already loyal customers that you have a better product, and that you do things differently. Yah know it’s tough to break that loyalty, you’re not going to convince someone who drinks Budweiser you have this great IPA. You constantly have to reinvent what you do.” One of the ways Jim separates himself from the local competition is the reward program he created, which allows customers to earn points with every purchase and to use those points to redeem prizes. Jim also emphasized the importance of constancy and treating everyone that walks through the door the same whether they are buying a couple of nips or a $200 bottle of wine.
Question: If a customer was to choose between your business and 3 others just like it why would you suggest they at least give you a try ﬁrst? What makes you stand out?
Answer: “In this business you’re not out on the street trying to convince people to come in. People often just stop into a liquor store, once they stop that’s when I need to convince them this is the place to be. However, now social media has taken the industry into a whole new direction and I been using social media before any other stores were doing it! And this is going back to when Facebook first started.” Seaside sets themselves apart by “doing reviews, talking about new products and presenting current products [on social media].”
Question: What is the number 1 way you currently bring in new customers?
Answer: Jim explains that in addition to his social media presence is his customer service which creates new loyal customers. He again emphasized the importance of greeting every customer and letting them know “I know what I’m talking about, I’m there for them and whenever they have questions, I’m there to answer it” Jim prides himself on his great customer service, which he describes as being a result of his passion and energy he has for the job he does.
Question: Do you feel that internet technology could play a bigger role in your business if you had the right tools?
Answer: “There is newer stuff called geo fencing that I’m getting introduced to which allows you to send a text to an individual that is going into a competitors store that says: hey Seaside Wine and Spirts has Pinot Grigio on sale” Jim went on further to explain that he definitely sees a future where technology plays a much bigger role in his industry and he’s anxious to see that play out!
After only speaking with Jim for a short while and watching him interact with a few customers I knew exactly why he has been able to attain so much success. Costumers at Seaside Wine and Spirts are always greeted with a bright smile and energetic hello! Jim and the rest of his staff are very knowledgeable and will always let you know they are there to help. They set the bar for customer service in any industry.