Interview: Austin Keith Of Texas Retail Chain Pinkie’sJanuary 12, 2018
Western Texas retail chain Pinkie’s is comprised of 16 liquor stores and two mini-marts selling beer and wine in Lubbock. Pinkie’s is also licensed to sell beverage alcohol to on-premise accounts, a business which accounts for about 25% of the company’s sales revenue. SND contributing editor Terri Allan recently spoke with president and owner Austin Keith about market conditions.
SND: How has the business changed since you acquired Pinkie’s nearly 20 years ago?
Keith: The business has changed due to consolidation among all tiers and the increasing number of SKUs that now need to be managed. Retailers have to evaluate every new product because they all cost money to sit on the shelf. Ultimately, it’s the consumer who decides what will sell.
SND: Spirits account for 70% of your retail sales. What’s driving the category today?
Keith: Brown goods, particularly Bourbon, have been performing best. Unfortunately, allocation of some of these products has hampered us a bit. There’s just not enough aged Bourbon available. But my number-one SKU is Tito’s vodka, and it continues to grow. Our market is a big Canadian whisky market, but Tito’s is now outselling Crown Royal.
SND: How are other Texas vodka brands stacking up against Tito’s?
Keith: Deep Eddy does well, as do Dripping Springs and Enchanted Rock. But none of these brands compare to Tito’s, which is on fire.
SND: What do craft spirits represent in terms of share of shelf space and spirits revenue?
Keith: It’s still minimal at our stores, but picking up.
SND: How is the market for Texas whiskies?
Keith: We have more Texas distilleries today than ever. Devils River, Rebecca Creek and Herman Marshall are all performing well for us.
SND: How is Tequila doing? Is it being overshadowed by whiskey? Are you seeing a move toward higher-end Tequilas?
Keith: Tequila is not getting overshadowed; it continues to do very well. Patrón is still strong, and overall we’re seeing a move toward higher-end Tequilas. Codigo, priced about on par with Patrón, is doing nicely.
SND: Are you making any inroads with wine in your markets?
Keith: We do a lot of niche marketing of quality, small-label brands because we compete against the wholesale clubs when it comes to the major wine brands. Social media has allowed us to promote these wines more effectively, along with craft beer and spirits.
SND: How is the market for Texas wine, and how has it changed in recent years?
Keith: In my market, Texas wine has slipped. Sainte Genevieve is still strong, but it’s not what it used to be. Shoppers feel that they can buy a good California wine for what they pay for a Texas wine.
SND: Have you moved into online sales or third-party delivery?
Keith: We’re looking at online sales but have not moved into it yet, and third-party delivery doesn’t make sense due to the wide geography here.Subscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.
Tagged : Pinkie's