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Career Story: Retail Wine Store Owner

Retail Wine Store Owner

Job Title: Retail Wine Store Owner

Education: BA Literature, Antioch College

Previous Experience: Wine manager for three large Boston-area stores. On-the-road wines salesman for two Massachusetts distributors.

Job Tasks: My job as a wine/liquor store owner has two major divisions: Buying and selling the product, and managing the business and personnel.

Working with product is most satisfying. We are always looking for wines that we and our customers will enjoy, deliver value, or provide a new experience. Salespeople present wines, beer and liquor to us to try, and we attend tastings and trade shows to find and try new products on the market. Sometimes I get to travel to winemaking regions and meet the people who make the wine and see the terrain that grows the grapes.

Developing relationships with our customers, understanding their tastes, and making suggestions is the most fun in the job. Your need to listen to what a customer is saying but sometimes the salesperson knows what the customer will enjoy better than the customer can explain. Having a knowledge and appreciation of the products that you sell allows you to sell with confidence and enthusiasm, and that translates to the customer having confidence in the purchase.

I also enjoy promoting the store and the products. It takes creativity to make a store attractive and effective. I like doing things that give the store personality, and make the products more accessible to the customers. Finding ways to increase business and profitability is an exciting challenge.

Administrative work is less fun. I don't enjoy the paper work of entering and paying bills.

Dealing with personnel is something that a good manager must be able to do. It is important to hire good people, utilize their skills, and make the workplace a positive experience. I like this part of the job. Sometimes a manager has to discipline or fire an employee. It is never enjoyable, but over time I have learned when this is necessary and how to do it.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Best: The personalities that you meet in retail. This includes both customers and employees. With a small staff, we need to get along and work together, and we have had some interesting people work here. Customers - you can love them or hate them, but you always need them. Fortunately, we have a friendly customer base and most of them are truly enjoyable to work with.

Worst: Retail involves a lot of hours - including nights, weekends and holidays. It also is place specific. There is more physical movement than office work, but is more restrained than outside sales. As an owner, I wish I could do less of the administrative paperwork and more of the sales work.

Job Tips:
1. Retail in general: Before you take a job, look at the employees and see if they are having fun. If they look bored, nervous, or under the thumb of a tyrannical boss, it's not going to be a pleasant place to work.

2. Wine/beer/liquor sales: This is a fun business if you love the product (in a good way.) Are you fascinated by taste? Try it out by going to wine classes or tastings, or work part time in a store or restaurant. Read about wines in books and magazines--very important! If you find yourself becoming more interested, you may be catching the wine bug. You may not get rich, but you will eat and drink well, and meet some remarkable people.

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