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Big Top Beverage

You Want It? They Got It.

You Want It? They Got It.
The aisles of Big Top Beverage in Roslyn, PA look like A candy shop, with brightly colored cases and six-packs jumping off the shelves; from the newest craft to that hard-to-find import, Big Top has it all. Heady Times spoke to manager Joe Breslin in June about balancing shelf space and adjusting to COVID-19.
Heady Times (HT): How did you first get involved with the beer industry, and how long have you been with Big Top?
Joe Breslin (JB): I started in the beer industry in Dallas with Whole Foods in 2010. We moved [to PA] in 2011, and I ran the Devon Pub until 2016, when I went to work for Stoudt’s and then Shangy’s. I’ve been at Big Top since June of 2018.
I’m also a homebrewer; one of my friends and I started brewing IPAs and stuff like that, but it was never quite as good as retail beer, until we started brewing mixed fermentation sours. Those I’m happy to share with people (as opposed to the IPA that sits in my fridge because I can buy Union Jack instead!). 
(HT): You offer a wide variety of beers, seltzers and FMBs. How do you strike a balance between newer, trendy products and old favorites?
(JB): That’s tough. We just try to keep up with market trends and feedback from customers. Obviously, we’ve seen what’s happening with the seltzer segment, so they’ve certainly earned a place in our world. It’s hard to find that balance because we’re known as a store that sells pretty much everything that’s accessible. To make space for new products, we keep most of our bulk beer in back stock so we can continue to have craft six-packs up front and still introduce new items into the mix. We’re not afraid to use a little more labor to keep the floor full.
I think my grocery experience has been helpful, because it’s allowed me to see where the market is going and help position us a little bit better.
(HT): What do you think keeps customers coming back to Big Top?
(JB): Like I said, I think we’re known as a store that offers most of what’s available in this market. I think that’s partially a self-fulfilling prophecy because we have the customer base that buys those products, like Belgian quads and traditional German beer, so that allows us to keep them in stock.
All of us have access to the same beer, but I think what differentiates us the most is customer service and our staff’s level of knowledge.
(HT): Have you had to make any changes at your store in response to COVID-19?
(JB): We did switch to curbside-only pickup for about a month and a half. We opened up to customers last week and we’re limiting the number of people in the store at any given time. We’re trying to have them limit their time in the store while still getting what they need.
We’re continuing to offer the curbside pickup for people who don’t feel comfortable coming in. I think that’s something you need to do to make customers and employees feel safe.
(HT): What service that Origlio offers is most helpful to your business?
(JB): Probably web ordering, it makes order entry a lot easier. You can check all QDs to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the deal levels. And if there’s an error, I know it was my fault, so I can’t be pissed [laughs].
Our sales rep, Joe Leahy, is a tremendous asset, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention him as well. • 1555 Easton Road, Roslyn • 215-659-5445