The Wine Store Warehouse
86 Franklin St.
Square footage: 5,200
Years in operation: 30
By Savannah Mul
Frank Celico and his wife, Donna, are deeply rooted in community service. From donating to local scholarship programs, conducting charitable tastings, working with the rotary club, the library, the Westerly Land Trust and other local foundations, the Celicos give back in any way they can. With that philosophy in mind, they manage their business in similar fashion.
“You can almost sense the atmosphere of the business,” said Celico, who created his business around “mutual respect and kindness, efficiency and attentiveness.” He believes a business guided by these attributes keeps the customer loyal and the store successful — and employees happy.
The staff, which is made up of approximately 16 employees, encourages customers to browse, providing advice and guidance when needed. “We encourage them [to browse]; that’s where the comfort level comes in,” he said. “When it looks like they need help, we ask what their price range is and what products they normally buy … by talking with them a bit, we can direct them to the right area with choices.”
He said the store has become more of a destination point for shoppers in Rhode Island, as well as in Connecticut, because of the close proximity to the border.
Located along the aisles of the store is what Celico calls aisle advisors. Celico explains that if a customer is curious to know detailed information about the product, they can scan the SKU under the device and tasting notes, food pairings, cocktail recipes and other information will appear on the screen to give the customer an idea on how best to serve the product. “The customers love this. They can find out more,” said Celico, who also recommends his employees use it to stay up-to-date with new products entering the store.
Wine drives the majority of store sales, followed by boutique beers, which is Celico’s terminology for the many craft beers on the market. “People that are into beer, they are fanatics,” he said. “The Mix-a-Six option we offer provides a lot of choices for them.”
The staff develops their own point-of-sale material to display on the wine racks and shelves. The tags include a cooler door number, which tells the customer if the product is available chilled and which cooler they can find the product in. “In order to do the volume of business we do, it’s important to serve the customer in an efficient way,” Celico said.
As for finding time running a business, donating their time to the local community and being with family, Celico said, “It’s about improving the quality of life in the community. We wanted to do more than make a living. It’s been very rewarding sharing the wealth with the community.”