The employees of the Idaho State Liquor Dispensary make the state stores what they are.
Some members of the Idaho State Liquor Dispensary (ISLD) gathered at Store #112, at Park Center Blvd., in Boise: (from left) Ken Winkler, ISLD chief financial officer; Jim Felton, manager of Store #112; Dyke Nally, ISLD superintendent and NABCA Director; Art Lee, District 1 Manager; and Marilyn Manda, manager for store #107, also located in Boise. And, oh yes, the guy who looks a little out of place on the far right… that’s Booker Noe, or rather, a stand-up cardboard display of the venerable bourbon master distiller.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GLENN OAKLEY/BLACK STAR
By Cheryl Ursin
“Our state stores look more modern, more like boutiques than the typical state liquor store,” said James “Dyke” Nally, superintendent of the Idaho State Liquor Dispensary (ISLD). “We receive many positive comments from suppliers and consumers.”
The reason behind the stores’ look? Perhaps a plan for store design imposed from the ISLD’s central office? No. The state-store managers take it upon themselves to decorate. “They have some flexibility and bring in plants and pictures. Each store is a little unique,” said Nally.
According to Nally, the 217 full-time and part-time ISLD employees who work in Idaho’s 51 state stores make all the difference.
“Many of our store managers have a lot of tenure,” he said. “We had one in Ketchum/Sun Valley retire after 41 years. They really seem to enjoy their jobs. Managers and clerks take personal pride in their stores.”
In the state of Idaho, there are a total of 155 stores in the control state system, 51 state stores serving the larger cities and 104 contract agencies, ranging from convenience stores to meat markets and even an insurance agency, serving smaller towns.
Basically, these stores and agencies sell mostly spirits products. They also carry a few malt liquor products containing less alcohol as well as some wines in Idaho’s several “Dry Counties.” The control state system in Idaho handles the sales of 1,433 SKUs, with the average state store carrying 979 SKUs and the average contract agency carrying 225.
Idaho is home to a handful of distillers, and displays like this showcase those products, which include Teton Glacier Potato Vodka, produced by Silver Creek Distilling, Rigby ID (and marketed by Niche, Cedar Knolls, NJ); Blue Ice Potato Vodka, also produced by Silver Creek (marketed by 21st Century Spirits, Commerce CA); Bardenay Rum, Vodka and Gin, produced and marketed by Settles Krick, Inc., dba Bardenay, Boise, ID; and Koenig Distillery flavored brandies and grappa, from Koenig Distilleries, Caldwell, ID.
Total annual sales for the entire system is approximately $72 million, $57 million of that coming from the state stores, $15 million from the contract agencies. Sales trends through May of 2002 show an increase over last year of 6.7%.
The 51 state stores and contract agencies are sprinkled evenly over three districts: District #1, the southwest portion of the state, headed by district manager Art Lee; District #2, the eastern part of the state, headed by district manager Bruce Christensen; and District #3, northern Idaho, supervised by district manager Gordon Hubbard. The district managers all report to Ken Winkler, the ISLD’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer, who is ably assisted by Joan Urresti.
The state stores in Idaho generally range from 2,000 to 4,000 square feet in size. The busiest, such as Store #101 in downtown Boise, rings up $3 million in revenue annually.
In an effort to keep labor costs as low as possible, each state store is staffed as minimally and efficiently as possible. Generally, the state stores have staffs ranging in size from 1.4 full-time personnel (FTP) equivalents to 4 FTPs. These staffs include one full-time store manager and clerks. In addition to full- and part-time clerks, the ISLD also has “temporary clerks,” employees that can come in when and where needed. The stores are open six days a week, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a few, in areas with sufficient demand, having extended hours till 9 p.m.
The Ketchum Idaho Store #209, located in the Sun Valley ski resort area, caters to an upscale clientele, and its classy atmosphere appeals to those customers. Store manager Taffy Schulz (above right) and store clerk Julie Lube keep things running smoothly (along with clerks Sandy Christianson and Joyce Haas not pictured here).
The store manager and district manager generally train store employees on the job. The ISLD’s human resource officer, Margo Edmiston, provides additional general training on topics such as interviewing, hiring and disciplinary techniques.
“And the district managers train the store managers,” said Nally. “Most of the time, people come up through the system, where clerks become store managers.”
Store managers continue their education. Every year, the ISLD holds a two-day meeting of all its state-store managers, usually in Boise. There, managers receive training in topics including I.D. checking, safety, computer systems, merchandising, etc. During the “New Product Seminar,” store managers meet supplier representatives and are able to learn about and sample new products. They meet with people from the ISLD’s central office and warehouse, “people they may talk to on the phone but not see on a regular basis,” said Nally, and, perhaps most importantly, they get to meet and talk with one another, discussing the common issues they face working in a state system and in the retail world in general.
Nally is a strong believer in using the knowledge of his state-store managers, the people on the front lines. One change he made to the ISLD as superintendent is to involve store managers in the “listing” process, deciding what products the stores and agencies should carry.
Nally insists that the store managers are a vital part of the listing process. Store managers, on a rotating basis, meet with the district managers three times a year to discuss the listing of products and sizes. These meetings are organized by Bill Applegate, the ISLD’s manager of procurement, pricing and distribution, and Kay Bennett, the special order manager. The ISLD’s CFO Ken Winkler also attends these meetings.
Suppliers send representatives who give a presentation of their product, discussing how it is doing in other areas of the country, what promotional program will be used to support it and how profitable the brand is.