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Interview: Ryan Maloney Of Julio’s Liquors

November 15, 2017

With a longtime emphasis on its whisk(e)y selection, Julio’s Liquors of Westborough, Massachusetts, continues to see overall growth of its spirits business, while competition for wine sales in the Bay State intensifies.SND contributing editor Terri Allan recently spoke with Julio’s owner Ryan Maloney about wine and spirits trends at the store, which recorded sales revenue of $10 million last year, as well as expansion plans.

SND: How is the retail marketplace for wine and spirits in suburban Boston faring?

Maloney: We’re following the national trends. Massachusetts is a very competitive market, especially for wine. While our average price remains about $15 a bottle, everything revolves around price right now for the leading brands. So we work hard to educate our customers about other wine options and promote our specialty items. We’re seeing an upward trend in spirits sales on a dollar basis, as we’ve been developing our specialty spirits business for some 20 years.

SND: What categories are driving spirits traffic at Julio’s? And what are you expecting to see for spirits in 2018?

Maloney: We’re definitely a whisk(e)y-centric store, but we’re also seeing an upward tick in gin and rum. Asian whiskies, like Kaiyo from Japan, are doing great, but we can’t get enough of what everyone wants. We wish Cognacs and Armagnacs would catch fire a little more. I’ve been a longtime proponent for rye and Canadian whiskies, and I’m excited to see that rye is hot right now. I’m also bullish about the prospects for Canadian whiskies looking ahead.

SND: With the easing of licensing caps in Massachusetts, what’s the status of your interest in expanding with a second store?

Maloney: We’re still interested in adding a second location. There was a recent clarification from the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission that consolidated or collective buying by retailers for quantity discounts and common warehousing are unlawful, but it hasn’t changed our outlook to expand at some point. We’ll just have to ensure that the second store will be able to stand on its own and not have to rely on the buying power of the original store.

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