Q and A: New liquor manager sees a bright future
It's been just over a month since Blair Peterson stepped in as the new liquor operations director for the city of Farmington, and somehow, he managed to come in to his new job at the busiest time of the year.
But that's okay for Peterson, who comes to Farmington from Lakeville, where he managed several of that city's liquor stores. Coming in during the holiday season gives him an opportunity to settle in, to see how things are run, and to meet a few folks. The task of setting goals and increasing sales will come soon enough when the holidays are over.
Peterson shared a little bit about himself and his plans for the future with us this week.
Tell me a little bit about yourself. I understand you were over in Lakeville, and that's all I know about you.
I've pretty much been in the liquor industry since college. I worked for a little wine wholesaler in Arizona for a while, and then it was bought out by a bigger wine wholesaler, so I worked for that, doing everything from warehouse to sales to driving truck. About 16 years ago, my wife was offered an opportunity to move up in her job, up to corporate headquarters, which was up here in Minnesota. We thought it was a good time to take advantage of that, the kids were still fairly young, so we moved up here.
Then I started working for Lakeville Liquors just as a part-time sales associate, and kind of grew with the city, grew with the job. Moved into different positions until I became manager of the stores. I worked at all of the stores at one point or another, but I was at the new store for the past five years. Then I came out here to Farmington.
How's it going here?
Good. Good. I'm enjoying it very much. I'm looking forward to the future and looking forward to working with the administrator and council members and the liquor committee, and the citizens of Farmington to help grow the business.
How did the Thanksgiving weekend go? It was the first holiday for you under your new position here.
It was good. It was fun. Sales were better than last year already, so that's a good sign. Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving are kind of slow. People are traditionally out shopping and cyber-shopping. It was a lot of fun. It was great meeting a lot of the people from Farmington, who have all been very supportive and friendly. It's been very nice.
Come January, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Well, right now I'm just learning, taking it all in. Learning how they operate within the stores and doing a lot of observing and such. Come January I'm sure we'll have another liquor committee meeting and I'll put some suggestions out there, and they'll put some suggestions out there. I did have one meeting with them already which is nice. I think that's going to be a great asset for them, and for the liquor operation, having that committee. From there, we move forward and we change things that we think need to be changed, get things moving forward, hopefully in a growth pattern, for the rest of the year. And beyond.
Have you, yourself, come up with any goals for the organization?
I think right now, the goals are fairly general in circumstance, because like I said, I've only been here a few weeks and I'm still learning. But I think there will be some more definite goals down the road here, in budget and the amount of growth we should look for. Some new products in stores, that are ... I don't want to say cutting edge ... but some of the newer ones, staying on top of the wave, staying on top of the curve as far as the liquor industry goes, in order to keep up there as a place where people want to go to do their shopping.
How do you get consumers to try new things?
An event like a wine club or something, where they have the opportunity to try X-amount of wines without actually having to try those wines, they have the opportunity to order those wines if they so choose, and pick them up at the store on a future date. It also gives them a good idea of what they like, what they don't like, what they might want to do, especially during the holiday season, for gift giving and things like that. There is a definite benefit there. In the stores, we have things like mix-your-own six packs of beer, as well, which gives them the opportunity to pick six different beers and put them into a six pack at one set price....
There is a big educational aspect to the wine club, as well. I think we want to make it a fun social event, make it educational, and make it a benefit for the wine club members to help educate them, as well.
What are you looking forward to in this new job?
I'm really looking forward to working with the staff, the city administrator, city council, the liquor committee and with the citizens of Farmington, including maybe some of the businesses as well. Carrying the liquor department forward, and educate as well, on the benefits of having a municipal liquor store in your own community.