Frankly Wine’s Christy Frank – NY wine shops – a 2,400 part series

christyfrankChristy Frank of Frankly Wines–last seen in front of her cork wall–returns with some answers to a few of my questions about the possible changes NY wine retail.

Size of store: 320 sq feet, possibly the smallest in Manhattan [66 West Broadway; Tribeca]

Style of selections: well-edited! My version of the well-stocked wine closet: including daily essentials, quirky finds, and higher end treasures. Selection skews toward the Southern Hemisphere.
price average: 50% of stock is $20 or less

A cool bottle: “Syrocco” Syrah 2006 (Zenata, Morocco) – eye-rolling aside at the clever, rhyming name, the wine is a great value at $16.99. Alain Graillot of Northern Rhone fame is the man behind this project.

Date store opened: December 14th, 2007

Position on proposed reform to allow food stores to sell wine: There’s a Whole Foods around the corner, so the possibility that this will pass, combined with the current economic environment does worry me. Prior to opening my wine store, I ran the national business for several wine brands, so I understand that independent wine/liquor stores can co-exist with large, corporate grocery chains that also sell wine. However, given the current economic environment, this is probably not the best time to test the entrepreneurial spirit of the existing independent retail base to adjust to a drastically changed regulatory landscape. What I find interesting about this proposal is that the benefit (or possible lack of benefit) to the consumer barely enters into the discussion. The proposal was issued as a way to raise state funding, and as such, I think the financials need to be given real, detailed scrutiny.

I’ve seen top-line numbers from both sides, but the devil is in the details – and the only detail I have seen is the written testimony submitted by Whole Foods on 11/30/07 in preparation for last year’s budget (found herein pdf). I hope that unlike the scenario in that document, the State’s calculations take the negative consequences of existing store closures into account. I hope that “700 full-time-equivalent jobs” are enough to off-set the jobs lost due to those closings. And I hope that if passed, the actual franchise fee per location isn’t actually 10% – 0.2% of location sales for small stores ($500K or less per year) and only 0.05% – 0.06% of sales for the largest stores.

My suspicion, although I welcome hard numbers that firmly indicate otherwise, is that this plan will transfer wine sales from small, local retailers to large, corporate chain grocery stores at the time when these retailers have the least chance of success to successfully adjust their business models.

What you might do differently if passed : I already focus on smaller, boutique brands and offer a very high level of service. Ideally, the legislation would allow me to sell high-end beer and a small selection of gourmet goods – without turning myself into a full-on grocery If a grocery store gets to tag wine onto their existing business model, I should think I should have the opportunity to tag beer and cheese onto mine.

And if grocery stores are now allowed to sell wine in multiple locations under the same corporate license, shouldn’t wine stores be given the same ability to gain scale and compete? I’d love to see Frankly Wines logos in locations across the city….I bet I can pick up some old Starbucks leases on the cheap…if only I could find the funding.

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9 Responses to “Frankly Wine’s Christy Frank – NY wine shops – a 2,400 part series”

  1. […] See the original post here:  Frankly Wine’s Christy Frank – NY wine shops – a 2,400 part series […]

  2. She’s got great ideas about proper rules and a good attitude. Too bad she’s, understandably, reluctant to deal with a more rational market but I like her pluck and attitude in general.

    She should be able to do all of those things and take a serious chunk out of the NYC market. Now to get rid of community boards…

  3. Christy is smart to point out how the proposals means must be proven with hard numbers to meet its ends. Otherwise, there is no point in moving forward with it. She really gave a balanced view on the subject matter, likely due to her job history as she mentioned.

  4. I live in North Carolina and grocery stores can sell wine and beer and we have several wine shops in a town of 70,000.
    Everyone is doing well. The supermarkets wine shelves are corporate. Doesn’t matter the store.
    The Whole foods,Greenlifes etc have a better selection but there still are alot of wines out there.
    I understand any ones reluctance to chance when you established a business model on existing rules.
    But I believe that whatever offers me the most choices and best prices is good for all. We shouldn’t have all these bizarre, archaic rules and regulations. The businesses that can adept will do well and those that don’t will go away.
    That’s just the way it is.

  5. This issue is really going to come down to whether or not the wine shops can carve out a niche that the supermarkets aren’t able to tap into. In FL supermarkets are able to sell wine, but most people still choose to make their selections from wine shops which offer better selections, better service, and often even better prices.

  6. Like Christy, my background includes managing national accounts for wineries/importers.
    At least the small wine shops don’t have to worry about Wholefoods competing on bottle price. Based on experience, WF retail prices are similar to many smaller independents.
    Also, most chains do focus on either corporate wines and/or private labels.

  7. […] Frankly Wine’s Christy Frank – NY wine shops – the 2400 partial array … […]

  8. […] Frankly Wine’s Christy Frank – NY wine shops – the 2400 partial array … […]

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