Island Wine & Spirits
Square footage: 4,500
Years in operation: 15 years
By Sara Capozzi
Centrally located in the midst of downtown Newport, Island Wine & Spirits makes its home in a prime location on Broadway, giving the store ample foot traffic, especially during the summer months when tourists flock to Aquidneck Island.
“We get an influx of a lot of people from out of town, so we are selling a lot of wine right now,” said Manager Eric Derrico. “Rosés are popular, of course, right now with the summer, and Sauvignon Blancs have picked up in the last few weeks.”
And since the majority of the store’s clientele are on vacation, buying behavior tends to follow suit according to Derrico. “A lot of the tourists are staying in rentals, so they’ll come in and buy a whole case of something or six of this, eight of that. It’s a lot of large orders because they’re stocking up for their entire visit all at once.”
Categories that are currently gaining ground at the store are ready-to-drink, single-serve cocktails from Sons of Liberty Loyal Lemonade and Cutwater Spirits, and hard seltzers brands across the board. “Premixed for spirits is definitely what’s hot right now,” Derrico said.
Island Wine & Spirits offers shoppers extra savings through its Cheers Direct program of wine and spirits, among its benefits of being part of the Wine & Spirits Retailers stable of stores for the past nine years. “We’re a wine-heavy store,” he said. “We sell about 40% wines. So, our Cheers wines do very well here.” One such popular item this summer is the house wine brand’s new sangria.
Beer and spirits evenly make up the remainder of sales at the shop at 30% each. Craft beer, especially from local breweries such as Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co. and Whalers Brewing Company, are in demand.
Derrico brings more than 15 years of retail and customer service experience in the beer, wine and spirits industry to his current role. Bringing superior service to customers is a priority at Island Wine & Spirits.
“We try to be as approachable as possible,” he said. “We like to ask people if they need help. I like to think that I look approachable if I’m working out on the floor. I got this job because of customer service, so I’m a very customer service-oriented person to begin with. That’s the most important thing there is … I’ve always worked in retail and that’s just the nature of the beast. If you don’t have any customers, you’re not going to have the business.”
Derrico and staff enjoy their day-to-day interactions with customers and helping them find new products, especially now that tastings are back on the schedule. More perks for customers include Island Wine & Spirits’ recently launched store app, available for Android and Apple devices, which can be used for online ordering, curbside pickup and delivery in Newport and Jamestown, a convenience that the team predicts customers will continue to gravitate toward.
“We always had a website, but I think because of the growth in the online sales that we’ve had in the past year, going in that direction just made sense,” Derrico said. “Our delivery business is strong, so I don’t think that people are stopping because things are opening up and the restrictions are lifting. I think they got used to the service, so they’re going to continue to use it.”