Ottawa is having its first ever “Pop-Up Wine Shop” June 17th-20th in the Byward Market. As this is a really new phenomena for Ottawa (and still pretty new for Ontario), I asked Adam Bekhor, Co-founder & CEO or WineWire Inc. if he would answer a few questions about this initiative.
Shawn: What are you doing exactly?
Adam: The concept of our WineWire pop-up shop is to provide our customers the feel of a “real” boutique NYC/San Fran wine shop by setting up in a traditional retail space. Customers would be able to come into our pop-up shop and taste for free from over 100 of the 650+ wines offered on WineWire.ca. Both Nelson and I will of course be working the pop-up helping customers through the shop’s wine selections. Once tasted, the customer can order the wine using iPads set up around the shop. The wine would then be delivered to the customer’s home/office a few days later.
Shawn: We’ve heard a lot about market access and private wine shops in Ontario. Just how can you do this?
Adam: As in all things, the devil is in the details. WineWire is in a unique position with respect to marketing wine and collecting orders. When a customer orders a wine using WineWire.ca we only collect the customer’s name, address and where they want the wine delivered to. Final payment for the wine is always between the customer and the representing wine agent. Due to this set up, WineWire is able to allow customers to taste the wines found on our website in our pop-up shop and order cases using our online ordering system. This allows us to very effectively recreate the online experience offline in our shops, but still use WineWire.ca to process and track orders. It also keep us on-side with the current legislation and regulatory bodies.
Shawn: When is the shop going to be here?
Adam: The WineWire pop-up wine shop will be located at 107 Murray Street in Ottawa’s Byward Market. We will be open to the public from Tuesday June 17th to Friday June 20th, 12pm to 8pm daily. There is no cost for anyone to come in and taste from the 100+ wines restaurant-only wines will be serving.
Shawn: How many wines are on offer?
Adam: We will be bringing over 100 of the 650+ wines currently available on WineWire.ca for consumers to taste and order. We are all about providing our customers access and encourage them to taste whatever they want…even if this bottle hasn’t been opened. Wine is all about experimentation. If we have a customer who has always wanted to try a wine from Lebanon and we have it in the shop, we would have no problem opening a bottle just to make the customer happy.
Shawn: What can an attendee expect if they drop into your shop?
Adam: A customer can expect two things. First, they can expect to taste wines they can’t find on the shelves of the LCBO. Second, they can expect myself and Nelson. In our current wine-buying environment, good customer service seems to come at a premium. Nelson and I take a lot of care and pride in how we approach the relationship between ourselves and our customers. Both online and in person, we alway try to ask questions in order to help the customer discover something new about wine. For us it’s all about creating trust between WineWire and the customer.
Shawn: Do you see yourselves with a physical storefront if the province ever allows private wine shops?
Adam: Short answer….of course, but we want to be ready for anything. Including the privatization of the LCBO warehouse program. We need to be realistic when it comes to any changes in legislation. No one really knows what going to happen. We try not to spend to much time navel gazing on the what-if’s. Our position is plan for several different outcomes and be ready to move quickly when the winds of change start blowing.
Shawn: If we buy wines at the pop-up shop, how long does it typically take for them to be delivered?
Adam: Excellent question! This has been the bane of most Ottawa based wine lovers trying to order wine from a Toronto based wine agents. The good news is that we have two options. First, if you need the wine in 3 to 5 days, the agents can arrange for delivery by courier at a cost. The second option, if you can wait 3 weeks, the customer can have the wine delivered to their local LCBO store free of charge. We love this option cause it allows for equal access across the province to the great restaurant-only wines you can find at WineWire.ca.
Shawn: You ran a similar shop in Toronto last December. How did it go?
Adam: In a word “amazing”! No one had ever attempted to run a pop-up wine shop in Ontario before. We were understandably very nervous and had (what we thought were) realistic expectation of the shop’s success. We were totally blown away by the response! In the end, we sold over 100 cases of wine and entertained over 2000 people at the shop in the equivalent of 2 business days. We really hit on a “need” in the market and are planning on repeating our Toronto pop-up wine shop in November.
Shawn: Any other pop-up shops planned elsewhere in the province?
Adam: 100%! We are planning on opening a WineWire pop-up wine shop in Muskoka in July and a second pop-up wine shop in Toronto this November
Shawn: Last, why should folks attend?
Adam: Wine has always been about fun for us. Coming to the WineWire pop-up shop will certainly be fun! Layer on top the ability to taste from over 100+ restaurant-only wines and talk wine with Nelson and I in a casual environment all for free….the question should be why wouldn’t you attend?
So there you have it – not quite a private wine shop as we’d like to see, where you could purchase a bottle on the spot and take it home with you, but likely the next best thing until Ontario’s liquor laws change.
All photos in this post were graciously provided by Adam Bekhor of WineWire.