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Beverages And More

history of beverages and more

Beverages and More is an alcoholic beverage retailer that operates 104 superstores, 48 in Northern California, and 46 in Southern California and 10 in Arizona. Store locations target the major metropolitan “foodie” markets of San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego.

The stores sell over three thousand types of wine, twelve hundred types of beer and fifteen hundred types of distilled beverages as well as an assortment of non-alcoholic beverages, gourmet foods, cigars and drinking accessories (wine goblets, shot glasses etc.) Stores are designed to be easily navigated even by customers who are relatively new to enjoying gourmet wines, beers and spirits, and customers are given frequent opportunities to sample both alcoholic and non-alcoholic wares. You must be over 21 to enter a Beverages and More location.

The company is privately held and in 2009 reported profits of well over $500 million.

An early CEO Bannus Hudson once described Beverages and More’s business model as a candy store for adults, and indeed with what may seem to many companies as every intoxicating beverage under the sun crowding its shelves, the description is not too far off.

In 1996 Beverages and More was the recipient of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s award as Retailer of the Year, and in 2008, the company was singled out by the Tasting Panel magazine for a Lifetime Achievement award.

History of Beverages and More

The company was founded in Concord, California in 1994 by an investment group headed by Steve Boone who had previously developed the Liquor Barn, a very successful discount alcoholic beverage outlet that was purchased by supermarket giant Safeway in the 1970s. The first Beverages and More opened in Walnut Creek and followed many aspects of the Liquor Barn model including rapid expansion and a huge amount of floor space, generally in excess of 10,000 square feet. However, Beverages and More targeted a more upscale clientele than its predecessor by selling specialty foods and establishing an in-house rating system that scores the wines it sells on a scale between one and one hundred.

Beverages and More’s initial expansion proved to be unsuccessful. In 1998, after nearly going broke, the companies closed stores in Florida and Nevada, and decreased the square footage of their average retail outlet to 7,000 square feet. By 2000 the company had become the second largest alcohol retailer in the nation and was in the black again, earning more than $130 million that year. Since its inception, customers had nicknamed the company “BevMo!,” which became the domain name of the company’s popular website and online store that same year. The nickname is also frequently used to brand the company.

In 2006 the company was acquired by a private equity firm based in New York and London called TowerBrook Capital Partners, L.P. The company’s future plans include continued expansion both throughout California and Arizona and into other states.

Beverages and More’s Rating System

Beverages and More’s cellar master Wilfred Wong is in charge of rating the wines the stores sell, sometimes tasting as many as 40 wines blind in a single day. Wong tastes approximately 4,000 wines per year. He selects all the wines the stores sell as well which has given rise in some circles to accusations of conflict of interest: if the company has an aggressive marketing plan for a particular brand of wine, how can customers tell whether high marks from Wong represent disinterested appreciation or an attempt to push the product? Wong denies these allegations.

On the BevMo! website the company also features wine ratings from the Beverage Tasting Institute, Robert Parker, Jr., the Wine Enthusiast and the Wine Spectator

Beverages and More’s Private Wine Label Vineyard Partners

Beverages and More distributes its own line of custom blended and packaged wines under the private label Vineyard Partners. While the company had not disclosed Vineyard Partners’ sales figures, the CEO has noted publicly that sales of Vineyard Partners wines constitute a significant fraction of the company’s overall revenues.

Beverages and More’s Website: Bevmo.com

Through its website bevmo.com, Beverages and More’s reach extends into all states where selling alcoholic beverages over the Internet is legal. Bevmo.com has become particularly well known for its periodic five-cent sales during which overstock is sold to customers at a huge discount.

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