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Market Watch Hosts Its Annual Leaders Awards Dinner, Honoring Top Retailers Across America

October 1, 2021

SND sister publication Market Watch magazine put the spotlight on the nation’s best spirits and wine retailers last night at its annual Leaders Awards Dinner, held at The Pierre Hotel in New York City.

The magazine’s Retailer of the Year award went to Bob Selby, CEO of eastern Massachusetts-based Kappy’s Fine Wine & Spirits. Selby, who was previously named a Leader in 2013, oversees nine stores, as well as Kappy’s Importing & Distributing Co. His masterful management of retail offerings under the Kappy’s name through the decades has resulted in current annual revenue of $100 million, and plenty of runway for future growth.

The industry Executive of the Year award was given to Albert Baladi, CEO of Beam Suntory. Baladi has been instrumental to driving growth for the spirits giant, first at Beam and later at the integrated Beam Suntory, investing heavily in the Kentucky Bourbon boom and in the Tequila space as well.

Eight new Leaders from six retail operations were honored at last night’s dinner. Here’s a look at the Leaders Class of 2021:

•Blake Leonard of Stew Leonard’s Fine Wine & Spirits in the tri-state area. Leonard learned the food and beverage retail trade from her father—a 2010 Market Watch Leader—and has driven the family business forward in recent years by focusing on the best products in every category, and employing a knowledgeable, well-trained staff of 300 employees.

•Chad Sokol of Issaquah, Washington-based Costco Wholesale Corporation. Sokol started as a seasonal employee at this retail operation, pulling in carts and working as a cashier. Nearly 30 years later, he runs the beverage alcohol department, which brought in global beverage alcohol sales of $5 billion last year.

•Troy Rice of national retail behemoth Total Wine & More. Even though he entered the beverage alcohol arena just five years ago, Rice has proven a dominant force in the space, leading Total Wine to revenues of over $5 billion in 2020. His focus on online sales and digital platforms has helped revolutionize the way the company does business.

•Jimmy Flanigan of South Florida’s Big Daddy’s. The son of a legendary retailer, Flanigan is a stalwart in this family business, rising through the ranks to eventually become CEO and chairman. He continues to keep the business fresh by focusing on factors like the website and online sales.

•Chuck Ferrar and David Marberger of Annapolis, Maryland-based Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits. This father-son duo’s focus on customer service and satisfying every individual customer has driven growth for the business, resulting in a new brick-and-mortar location and major revenue growth.

•John Haronian and Kathy Haronian of Rhode Island and Massachusetts-based Wine & Spirits Retail Marketing. This father and daughter team developed a unique franchise business, which now totals 14 locations and pulls in revenue of $80 million.

Seven Leaders alumni were honored for excellence in marketing, website innovation, and community service. Father and son Sasha and Gary Vaynerchuk of Springfield, New Jersey’s Wine Library took home the Best Marketing award, while the Best Website accolade went to fellow father-and-sons Bill, Glen, and Jim Knight of Los Angeles-based The Wine House. The Community Service award went to yet another father-and-son team, Dennis and Mat Dinsmore of northern Colorado’s Wilbur’s Total Beverages and Wyatt’s Wet Goods.

The market’s top brands were also recognized at the Leaders dinner. Jose Cuervo Tequila won the honor for Spirits Brand of the Year, with the Wine Brand of the Year award going to Bota Box. The Best New Spirits Product honor went to Teremana Tequila, while Unshackled by The Prisoner took home the Best New Wine Product award.—Julia Higgins


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