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Selling wine ‘outside the box’

With suppliers and entrepreneurs alike seeking new ways to grab the attention of consumers, boundary-pushing concepts have continued to shake up the wine trade in Kenya. The Wine Story had the opportunity to review some very interesting concepts, ideas and establishments countrywide and there is one in particular that could have potential to catch on.

Folks at The Liquor House , Kiambu road

All the while, notable innovations within the wine industry have mostly been used in the wine making process. From the likes of quirky wine labels, wine in a box, diet wine, wine in a can (previously featured) to wine on tap (we shall look into later) – wine lovers have always been searching of new ways to push the boundaries and innovate. On the other hand, some resellers have also picked up the baton and shown various innovations they can present and sell wine to their beloved customers.

This brings us to the folks at The Liqour House (abbreviated as TLH), a dainty liquor supermarket along the busy Kiambu road. With a different outlook to how Kenyans should purchase their favourites, the team believes that the customer experience should be top notch. Speaking to the store’s proprietor Alex Ndungu, he reflected on an intimate family trip to Sydney, Australia where he and his brother Sam Ndungu (SamK) got inspired by what they saw and imagined an iconic ‘H’-shaped building that would stock the best liquor brands in the market and assume an identity of its own.

Stretching the idea further, the duo toyed with the idea of adding a bulk purchase wing – a special section dedicated to the type of clientele who wants to restock their private gazebos with a wide range of liquor ranging from cognac to rum, wine to beer. Potential buyers can relax in a cosy lounge as they await order processing.

“At TLH, we have stocked wines from all over the world; Italy, Argentina, Spain, Chile, Australia,… even Germany!”

A state of the art elevator has been installed to help move products around the megastore and also accommodate any clients with disability challenges.

When you enter the ‘house’ you will quickly notice that no expense was spaired to achieve a modern elegant interior finish that elevates the entire liquor store to a league of its own. “We were lucky to have Timber world ltd with their splendid craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail. Wakati consultants also came on board to wrap the whole project together…,” Alex added.

The whole structure comprises 4 main sections, i.e The Cold room, Bulk ordering section, Reserve room and the Tasting lounge. To achieve this dream, a major partner, East African Breweries Ltd (EABL), played a very crucial role as far as the store-within-a-store design concept, actualisation and a unique showcase of its reserve brands portfolio such as Ketel One and Cîroc, Ron Zacapa , Johnnie Walker Super Deluxe range and signature single malt range just to name a few.

The Liqour House Tasting Lounge dubbed ‘Founders Lounge

The Tasting lounge
With a clear understanding of their target audience, TLH acknowledges that palettes are evolving hence the need to create a distinctive deep-seated space that allows for selected wine and spirits tasting. The room is fitted with cosy furniture matching the occasion with multiple giant screens to display various multimedia. Following a detailed calendar, 3-4 tastings are queued monthly hosted in partnership with leading sommeliers, mixologists and brand ambassadors.

Directly below is the reserve room (Connoisseur’s Den); one that appeals to the sophisticated customer seeking a selection of wines and spirits that are unique and high end. In the den, it feels like you stepped into a world class duty-free store in Dubai airport with elegant aisles of alcoholic delights beckoning.

With the adoption of creative innovations around the world, it is evident that retailers are thinking outside the box to improve customer experience and stock wide varieties of wines and spirits. Additionally, we now have many alcohol delivering services in Kenya and renowned mobile sommelier apps (Vivino) to help consumers select their products. With so many options, consumers have more opportunities than ever before to experiment, taste-test and find a new favorite beer, wine or liquor.

If you liked this article, you may like this one!: When I Get To The Shop, I Get ‘Wine Confused!’

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