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Wine retail business model

Wine Sellers Taste Opportunity at the Mall

Gary McCoy says malls are a perfect fit for wine sellers who want to do big business. The foot traffic is high and holding cross promotions-say, a wine tasting at the jewelry store three stores down-can bring in more customers and boost sales. Mall employees can become valued customers. If the mall happens to be a destination center filled with cinemas, eateries and synergistic retail neighbors, the benefits to wine retailers are immense.

At least that’s McCoy’s experience as general manager of The Grape, a wine bar/retail store combo concept (as many are these days) that opened in January in the Northlake Mall, the only super-regional mall in the North Charlotte market. The setup gives franchisees two revenue streams, a retail store for to-go orders and a stay-here-and-relax wine bar.

“The foot traffic and sales are very positive for us, especially on weekends, ” McCoy says. “Besides the foot traffic, we have a captive audience as far as the mall employees go. We serve food, and they come in for lunch or dinner. They come in when we have live entertainment, too. As soon as they’re off work, they can walk right down the way and stop in. It just makes good sense.” Headquartered in Atlanta, where the first location opened in 2000, The Grape ( isn’t the only company with an eye toward expanding in the mall market. A string of wine sellers have recently opened in malls, on a permanent or temporary basis, in inline spaces or on kiosks. Some are wineries or off-mall wine sellers who set up locations during certain holidays, especially the year-end winter holidays that bring peak foot traffic at most malls. (Not to mention that November and December are the peak holiday party months, with wine being a top hostess gift and one of the most common beverages served at any holiday event.) Others are year-round locations, often run by franchisees supported by a corporate parent with a tested business model based on a product considered if not recession-proof then recession-resistant.

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