- March 13, 2018
Aston’s newest beer distributor offers customers a unique shopping experience.
With 10+ years of experience in the beer business, Frank Chen knows how to make a retail store profitable. Chen, who previously owned Clifton Heights Beverage, sold that store last year because he felt he had maxed out its potential. He wanted a larger spot to create his dream store – one offering a unique “shopping experience”. Chen purchased an empty, 7000 square-foot space (once home to Blockbuster Video) in Aston, PA and built Dutton Mill Beverage from the ground up. Heady Times sat down with this entrepreneur to discuss his new location, what he’s learned over the years and what he’s doing to ensure that his store stands out from the rest.
Heady Times (HT): What have you learned during your time in this business?
Frank Chen (FC): I’ve learned that customers crave variety and they want their beer cold. That’s why I’ve lined two entire walls of the store with 32 cooler doors. And three additional doors are dedicated to single serves. Also, customers crave order, so I’ve organized the beers in the coolers by geographic location. I’ve also learned to take advantage of quantity discounts, so I can pass the savings on to my customers.
HT: What makes your store uniquely shoppable?
FC: It’s well lit, with wide aisles for shopping ease. Everything is neatly stacked, either on the floor or on shelves and we always make sure we’re well stocked. I was also adamant that this store have a good heating and air conditioning system. The last store I owned didn’t have heat. The beer actually froze when it was really cold outside. Temperature control also allows me to provide a comfortable experience for the customer, so hopefully they’ll shop a bit longer. These things make Dutton Mill a great place to shop and set us apart from the competition.
HT: Is there a rhyme or reason to the store’s layout?
FC: The layout was created to lead customers to higher-end products. Our imports are prominently displayed to the right of the entrance to guide shoppers to the craft and import coolers, which line the right wall. As customers enter the store, the cooler doors on the back wall, which house the domestics, are easily visible. However, as they walk towards those coolers, they are surrounded on either side by crafts and imports. The idea is for shoppers who are looking for domestics, to walk past the crafts and imports and hopefully make an impulse purchase.
HT: What sells well here?
HT: What has been your biggest obstacle in opening this new location?
FC: Getting people in the door. We’re in close proximity to two colleges – Newman and Widener, so it’s a great location. It’s just a matter of letting potential customers know we’re here. Once they’re in the store, they’re very impressed. We’ve had a bunch of new customers tell us that this is their ‘new beer store’. We’ve gotten really good feedback so far.
HT: What are you doing to get the word out?
FC: We’ve sent out flyers and we use social media – primarily Facebook – to post about new products and samplings that we hold every Friday. Samplings are also a great way for us to attract new customers.
HT: How has Origlio helped you be successful?
FC: Origlio has helped in a bunch of ways. I utilize their online ordering site to place my beer orders, which saves me a lot of time. And Jim Higgins, my sales rep, introduced me to the MillerCoors Advantage Point/Building with Beer application. It’s an app the sales reps have on their iPads. The distribution gap finder, within the app, gives retailers an idea of what other accounts in the area are selling. After finding out that information, Jim was able to make recommendations on what packages will sell well here. It has been very helpful.
Frank Chen with his sister Tracy
DuttonMillBeverage.com • 4401 Pennell Rd., Aston • 484-490-6183