Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Bottlerocket

The Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit store located at 5 West 19th Street in New York City has organized itself a little differently - by theme. Take-out, gifts, environmentally sound are all not a problem here. We got a chance to ask a few questions of Nancy Doyle, Bottlerocket's marketing sommelier:

Consumers Corner: Does the name Bottlerocket have any special or personal meaning?
Nancy Doyle: Our name, Bottlerocket, came to us after much thinking. We wanted a name that expressed all the energy and irreverence of our enterprise. Something that hinted at the fact that we’re a wine store, but avoided the clich├ęs that wine can evoke. It’s youthful, fresh, dynamic and anti-snob.

CC: What are the specific take-out themes you have in your store?
ND: Bottlerocket organizes the inventory differently than typical wine shops. It’s all about user-friendliness. Of the 15 islands grouping the wines thematically, two are dedicated to take-out cuisine. One take-out island has Chinese, Thai, Japanese and Indian menus, along with 5 wines suggested to accompany each. On top of the island is an enormous Chinese take-out container. The other take-out island has American, Mexican, Pizza and Barbeque, with a huge pizza box on top. In NY State, the law prohibits us from selling beer. But near the Indian restaurant menus we display a bottle of beer, with a note saying we recommend beer with Indian food — even though we can’t sell it!

CC: Given your environment and family friendly store, have you had any children and/or dog incidents yet?
ND: We have a water bowl and dog treats up by the register. Many neighborhood dogs know we have the goods and often they will lead their masters into the store, even if they don’t need wine.

CC: Is TV Producer to Cyber Educationalist to Entrepreneurial Wine Store Owner a typical career path?
ND: Tom Geniesse, Bottlerocket’s owner, follows his heart. He is an entrepreneur and a very creative person. He also loves wine and imagined a shop that would help consumers navigate the complex world of wine.

CC: What is the Flatiron district of New York City?
ND: Flatiron is an historic district north of Union Square. Named after the distinctive, handsome Flatiron building on 23rd Street, the neighborhood was once called Ladies Mile because it was where the city’s department stores were clustered in the 1800s. In the last twenty years the neighborhood has been transformed into a bustling area loaded with shops, restaurants and clubs. Many new residences are going up. It’s a lively, fun neighborhood with some architectural gems from early New York.

CC: Have you been well received in the district?
ND: Response to Bottlerocket has been very enthusiastic. We have a great group of neighborhood residents who stop in often. Every day, a few people come in just to say hello to Otis, our dog. About once a month, we have free events at the store called the Eclectic Salon. Authors come in, we do a wine tasting and book signing, people mingle and have fun. Guests have included poet Billy Collins, sex therapist Dr. Ruth, wine writer Jancis Robinson, restaurateur Danny Meyer. The idea is to celebrate wine in the greater context of life.

CC: With Internet access available and bottle notes at the checkout, Bottlerocket sounds like a highly technological set-up, do the customers appreciate that?
ND: Customers greatly appreciate that we track purchases and give them tasting notes for the wines. People are busy. They don’t necessarily remember what they drank the week or month before. We’re happy to simplify that for them. At the same time, the store is a very visual experience. Each display island has an oversized character or object on it, like the cow on top of the “Meat” island. So yes, we use technology to improve the wine buying experience. But we also want it to be fun, immediate and memorable.

Thanks to Nancy for her time and I look forward to visiting Bottlerocket later this summer.

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