Meet Your Merchant: Aloha Discount Wine and Liquors
Greg Psilopoulos’ reaction to the Great Recession was simple: Keep his head up and adapt to meet customer’s needs.
Psilopoulos, the owner and sommelier at Aloha Discount Wine and Liquors in Carson City, has watched wine dip from his No. 1 product to third, behind liquor and beer. And as beer – craft beer in particular – has “gone through the roof,” he’s installed a growler system where patrons can take home slightly more than five bottles worth of keg-fresh craft beer in sealable glass jugs.
The customer’s so far have been excited about the new system, he said. Right now, it features heavier beers better suited for winter indulgence, such as stouts, though other styles also are available. And if they’re unpopular, Psilopoulos said he’ll simply change them out.
“It could change week to week, month to month, or season to season,” he said.
He said he hopes to create a word-of-mouth buzz from beer advocates and the beer-curious – a buzz he said he and his employees can feed off to bring back some of the pre-recession fun that defined his venture.
“Our first three-and-a-half years, it was fun,” Psilopoulos said of his business, which started in 2004. “But with these economic times, it’s work.”
He said he started the store after spending almost 30 years in the food-and-beverage business. Psilopoulos wanted out of the restaurant side of things and figured he could put his training as a sommelier – or wine specialist – to work at a wine and liquor store. It was better than banging nails, he joked.
With the downturn, he said he watched regular customers disappear as the jobs did. And overall, he saw drinking habits shift toward the more economical – Carlo Rossi wine jugs became the top selling wine industry-wide and he’s seen liquor sales go up.
“Fifteen dollars for a bottle of wine and that’s going to last you that night,” he said. “A $15 bottle of Captain Morgan will last you at least three days.”
But then there is the craft beer explosion that spurred him to double his stock since 2008.
“People aren’t spending the $15 on the bottle of wine, but they’ll spend $15 on a thing of beer,” he said.
In the end, he said he appreciates the customers and support they’ve given his store, and he promises to maintain the level of service they’ve come to expect.
“We know how hard it is,” he said.