- July 12, 2017
Bigger doesn’t always mean better and Beverage Zone in Fairless Hills is proof of that. The 1400 square-foot distributor has been serving Bucks County beer drinkers for 20 years! Owners and brothers Michael and Adam Lerro, along with store manager Sean Foley, who all have backgrounds in restaurant management, run this thriving store, where for two decades, customer service is the one thing that has remained constant.
Heady Times (HT): What prompted you to open a distributer all those years ago?
Adam Lerro (AL): Well, the honest answer is, on Christmas Eve 1996, I ran out of beer. I turned to my brother and said, ‘this would never happen if I owned a distributor.’ No kidding, two days later, my uncle told me there was a distributor for sale. It was super intriguing, so I asked my brother if he wanted to venture into business together and here we are, 20 years later.
HT: I’ll bet you’re glad you ran out of beer now! How has your restaurant experience helped you at retail?
AL: I would say that organization is key and customer service matters more than anything else.
HT: Which industry changes have had the most impact on your business?
AL: Six pack and single sales – in a good way, but it took a lot of work to make the store conducive to the sale of all these packages. We knew there was no way we could carry the variety of beer we wanted to without coming up with a solution to best utilize the space. So, I went home and got to work. I created custom shelving that allows full cases to be stacked on the floor with six and 12 packs on top. Customers are able to see everything we carry very clearly. The store is small, but it’s shoppable, well lit and clean. We also had the cooler doors installed, which allow us to keep many of our six packs, single serves and some 12 packs cold. Being able to sell six packs has been huge for us. It’s hard for people to justify the cost of an entire case of specialty beer, but a six pack is affordable. We’ve also noticed that for many, six packs are add-on purchases. And, being so close to Sesame Place, we are fairly certain that the six packs will go fast this summer*.Last year, a lot of people came in looking for six packs to take back to their hotel after a day at the theme park. We had to turn them away and it sucked… not this year!
HT: For a small store, you have a lot of inventory. How do you choose the products you carry?
AL: Yeah, we offer about 1000 SKUs. We carry what our customers ask for.
Sean Foley (SF): IPAs and seasonals sell really well, especially in the summer and fall months. In September and October lots of customers come in looking for authentic German Oktoberfests.
AL: We choose a lot of the beers we carry based on the name and the graphics. If they look cool, sound appealing and the brewery is reputable, they will usually sell.
HT: There is lots of competition in this area. What makes Beverage Zone stand out?
AL: Well, it’s definitely not the size. It’s our service for sure. I know a lot of companies claim to offer the best customer service, but we really do. We know so many of our customers by name and what they like. Our regulars don’t even pass the counter. They come in, ask for what they want – in some cases we already know – and we get it, and bring it to their cars. You’ll find Sean chatting with customers all the time. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be friendly and courteous to your customers. It’s what keeps them coming back and what has kept us in business all of these years.
SF: We also offer home delivery, which is rare for a distributor. It’s a great service for people who have trouble getting around and it’s also really convenient for parties. We’ll even set up the kegs on ice and tap them. We call it door to pour service. People love it.
Thebeveragezone.com • 198 Lincoln Hwy., Fairless Hills, PA • 215-949-9903