Florida Panhandle's First ABC Store Opens
The newest location of Florida’s ABC Fine Wine & Spirits chain—the first in the state’s Panhandle—opened in October in Panama City Beach. Covering 9,506 square feet, the store boasts ABC’s most updated features, including its “Brew Stop” growler counter. Offering 12 regularly rotating beers—primarily local craft brews—the station uses a special negative-pressure system to draw beer into the vessel, which keeps the beer fresh longer than the typical carbon dioxide keg pump does. Customers can purchase 32-ounce growlers at the store for $4 or bring their own. In addition to its growler options, the store has more than 500 canned and bottled SKUs ranging in price from $3.99 a six-pack of Genesee Cream Ale to $229.99 a 24-ounce bottle of Samuel Adams Utopias. ABC offers over 2,000 spirits SKUs, from $6.69 for a 750-ml. bottle of its own vodka label to $3,999.99 for Richard Hennessy Cognac. The store’s 5,000 wine SKUs range from $3.99 a 750-ml. bottle of Concha y Toro Frontera Vintage Red Blend to $1,649.99 for the 2010 Château Lafleur. The unit also has a walk-in humidor with 400 cigars—a part of the business that draws its own unique clientele. “We have loyalty programs for wine, spirits, cigars—all the different categories,” says COO Bob Gibson. The store’s grand opening included a wine tasting for more than 400 guests, and it will continue to host regular wine, beer and spirits samplings. ABC has undertaken remodeling or rebuilding projects at many of its units over the last few years, and its next location will open in Destin in a few months. “Our company is nearly 80 years old, and if you’re going to be viable for that long, you have to reinvent yourself every once in awhile,” Gibson notes. “Right now we’ve gone to a completely different prototype than our old store, and it’s been working out well for us.”
New Chicago Store Focuses Solely On Craft
Twin brothers Adam and Parker Newman and their childhood friend Scott Reich opened Ezra’s in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood in October. Inspired by the craft beer revolution and the growing world of artisanal spirits, the partners wanted to showcase unique producers while educating consumers. “We saw what great things they were doing and wanted to better tell their stories,” Parker Newman says. The shop offers around 145 spirits SKUs, including Griff’s Cowboy whiskey from Iowa’s Cedar Ridge Distillery ($25 a 750-ml. bottle), Seattle’s Westland American single malt whiskey ($70) and Japan’s Nikka Miyagikyo 12-year-old single malt whisky ($110). It also has 100 wine SKUs ($12 to $80 a 750-ml. bottle) and 40 beer SKUs ($9.99 to $15.99 a 22-ounce bottle, four-pack or six-pack of bottles). In addition, the store’s website, Ezras.com, ships throughout the United States. While selling only craft spirits online, the site offers an editorial section called “The Swill,” which features video and other content about distilleries, bars and cocktails. Although the business just launched a couple months ago, the partners are already looking to expand with a storefront in Washington, D.C. “Opening in D.C. gives us access to some cool distilleries in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, which we’re really excited about,” Parker Newman says.
Specialty Beverage Shop Opens In Nashville
Wine store veteran Ed Fryer opened 12th & Pine Beverage Co. in November in Nashville’s trendy Gulch district. Taking advantage of Tennessee’s newly modified beverage alcohol laws—which now enable in-store sales of non-alcohol items, such as mixers, along with tasting events and other innovations—Fryer’s latest venture offers a limited selection of boutique and small-production wines, spirits and beers. “I believe that there’s a very smart wine buyer in everybody,” Fryer says. “Our focus is to find hidden gems—wines that have a great label, a great story and a great taste.” The store boasts 300 wine SKUs, including Toschi Vineyards Pinot Noir ($6.75 a 750-ml. bottle), Château d’Oupia Les Hérétiques ($12) and 1998 Dom Pérignon P2 Plénitude Brut Champagne ($350). It also offers about 150 spirits SKUs ($15 to $300 a 750-ml. bottle)—with a focus on Tennessee whiskey and Bourbon—and 100 beer SKUs ($5.99 to $30 a 750-ml. bottle or six-pack of bottles). Just a stone’s throw from Music Row, 12th & Pine uses shelf talkers to recommend musical pairings for its bottles and also sells mixers, barware, cigars and locally made products. The store regularly hosts tastings and will begin filling craft beer and wine growlers in early 2015.