Recall a post from a few weeks ago regarding a Liquor Store Showdown, where Ryan Layman and I each commit to the others’ favorite purveyor of the juice in December. I had to go to DiVino, Ryan has to check out Mondo Vino, and we each have to spend a little money in the store – its not good enough to just troll around and not support the business.
In thinking about how to evaluate the two shops, we talked about 4 points…
1) Customer Service – important to both of us. Were we greeted promptly? Did they ask if we needed help? Did they seem low-pressure if you did not want help (that one is for me…)?
2) Product Selection – hard to measure, but in general we had some ideas on this. Did they have a wide selection? Of what – were they good at wine but not beer? What about spirits?
3) Store layout – Could you find what you want easily? Did the layout make sense?
4) Price - were they comparable? How did they stack up on key items?
Yesterday, I took my trip to DiVino – the experience was very good, to say the least.
Customer Service – Grade = A-
There were three guys working in the shop when I went in. All three of them greeted me at one point or another in my 15 minutes in the store. They commented on something that I was looking at. They noticed and commented on the fact that when I grabbed a bottle of wine, I got it from the bottom of the stack (so they don’t have to shift bottles up every time that wine is selected.) They joked around about things, sly comments. They were upbeat, and seemed pretty knowledgeable when I asked about the composition of a wine that I had not heard of. Mostly, it felt like I was welcomed into their world, where they are so excited to share what they are passionate about with you, and absolutely no pretension or looking down their noses at me. Comfortable, like being in your favorite bike shop where everyone is as excited about the hubs you are considering as you are.
Product Selection – Grade = B
Mainly because DiVino is about half the square footage of Mondo Vino, but what they DID have all seemed to be of good quality and well thought out. I appreciate that the ‘categories’ are better defined here than in Mondo Vino, so if you were going in for the first time, you could easily find the ‘Oregon’ section or the ‘Cabernet’ section without having to ask. DiVino is a long, narrow store, so there were selections on the side walls, with one set of racks down the middle. Mondo Vino, on the other hand, is one big square room with numerous racks down the middle, so the layout is broader and a bit less defined. Seemed to me that DiVino has a greater proportion of their wines from the US (which is really important to me), while Mondo Vino has a much deeper selection from Europe – maybe this is an ‘old world v. new world’ wine strategy. I found a couple Oregon and Washington selections that I had not seen since being up there, which was cool – and a number of bottles I had never heard of.
With regards to spirits, I would say that they had the important stuff, but again, due to space, they can’t have a really broad selection of everything. Mondo Vino definitely has more of everything spiritual – bigger Bourbon selection, bigger Gin, certainly much larger Scotch selection. DiVino did well, but Mondo wins this one hands down.
Beer? Again…space. DiVino only had 3 refrigerated bays for beer, and one cold bay for wine – 4 total. Mondo Vino has like 8 for beer alone, and they are able to also cater to the Coors and Corona crowd with the extra room. The beer selection at DiVino was pretty typical, mostly microbrews and specialty stuff, but still – just not a huge variety due to space limitations.
Store Layout – Grade = A
I think they did the best with what they have. Again, its small(er), its not tiny, but it is power packed. Good stuff in less room means some good thinking went into what selection they can have out. One other observation about the store – they have a section in the front of their best selections for $10 or less – a customer can zip in, grab a $10 selection without having to wade through the $45 bottles, and get out with a decent wine for dinner. Nice touch making it easier for the consumer on a budget.
Price – Grade = A-
As with everything, depends on what you were pricing. I saw a bottle of Sea Smoke Southing for $61 – I should have bought 10, since from the winery its more than that! But a couple of Oregon selections were 4-5 bucks more than what I have seen at Mondo Vino. The bottle of Owen Roe Abbots Table was $28.00
The spirits seemed comparable – Bulleit was $23 bucks – I think a couple bucks less that MV.
I bet overall they were within 5% of each other on most things (likely adhering to the laws of the Distributor)
Overall – Grade = A-
Nice guys, easy layout, good selection (for the space), prices was right in there. The experience was fantastic. My spend? More than just a bottle of bitters – my take was $113 – 3 bottles of American wine and a bottle of Frontier Bourbon. Good experience and a fun trip…now, if it were just a couple miles north! ;>)