son, replete with in-store backboard
and autographed basketball.
Not everyone buys into elaborate,
real estate-hungry displays, however.
Shelf talkers—often referred to as “si-
lent salesmen”—nd case stacks remain
the bread and butter of many small and
medium-sized retailers. One thing that
has not changed: floor space is still pre-
cious. “We all have only so many end
caps,” says Paul Zagardo, owner of Path
Liquors, located on New York’s Long
Island in a very competitive area, rep-
resenting a broad demographic cross-
section of customers. He is not a fan
of supplied materials. “Point of sale is
really important. The more it looks per-
sonalized, the more value it has, but it’s
extra work.” Zagardo says. “I use a lot
of my own, signing ‘Paul’s Picks’ if it's
something over the top. Customizing
shows the personal approach, and gives
the shop credibility.”
How a store handles its POS has
become a means of self-definition—a
continually rotating esxpression of
what a store finds important. Many
stores catering to upscale or niche
markets not only eschew pre-printed
bottle neckers and shelf talkers, but
also make a concerted effort to develop
their own unique POS look. Yet others
are able to surf the Web and take
advantage of scores of winery and
importer websites that offer “Trade
Tools” areas where shelf talkers can be
printed in-house faster than you can say
“Et voilá!”
For specialty liquor labels, POS is a
small, but important piece of the puzzle.
“We’re not reinventing the wheel,” says
Nicole Portwood, brand manager for
Tito's Handmade Vodka. The Texas-
based distillery prides itself on a sort of
outside-the-norm approach to crafting
vodka, but the emphasis is on what’s
inside the bottle rather than outside it,
according to Portwood. “We’re never
going to compete with the big boys,
and we’re not going to try. We don’t
want to have something that looks
bigger than we are, and then have it
fall apart.”
Many small shops aim to stand out from the
pack via handmade signage. Vine Wine, in
Brooklyn, goes for detailed tasting notes.
At Central Bottle, in Cambridge, MA, shelves
are peppered with QR codes.
So-called “silent salesmen” still dot the retail
landscape, but the trend is toward customized
materials for specific markets and even
specific accounts.
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