If it’s possible to gauge the customer service at a New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet by monitoring the store’s growth, the West Lebanon location must have a winning program in place.
By all measurements, the new location at 265 Plainfield Road is a major upgrade for both upper valley residents and employees, according to store manager Heidi Guyette. At nearly 20,000 square feet, the new Outlet, located less than a mile away from the old store, dwarfs the previous location’s 7,500 square feet, and with twice as many wines to choose from, customers will notice the difference immediately.
“It’s vastly larger,” Guyette says of the new store. “We’re rapidly expanding the number of products we’re carrying. We’ve now got somewhere in the range of 5,000 SKUs [Stock Keeping Units] in the store. It’s set up beautifully and the aisles are wide and easy to shop. It’s nice and wide open and bright. It’s a beautiful store.”
Guyette, who works near the same upper valley neighborhood she grew up in, is joined by four full timers — Jacqueline Giarrusso, Emily Benson, Jacob Jones and Alexander Morris-Doyle — and 13 part-timers, who provide customers with a wide ranging, diverse area of expertise.
“The knowledge base of the team is really widespread,” Guyette says of the staffers who are on-hand to answer questions and make recommendations. “I like tequila, so I’ll gravitate to questions about tequila or wines; Jackie [Giarrusso] is very helpful working on the spirit side; Emily is very good with wines, and one of my part-timers, Richard Giambrunno, speaks fluent French, so that’s very helpful with our French-Canadian customers.”
Since the location is situated at a major crossroads, Guyette and her team often see a clientele made up of both local residents and also travelers, visitors to nearby colleges and universities and patients and family heading to-and-from Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center — which has led to semi-regular good-natured complaints. “I hear it on a pretty regular basis,” Guyette says, laughing. “People will be heading to the medical center and they’ll say, ‘My family and friends heard I was coming here, and now I have a shopping list for the Liquor and Wine Outlet. I made the mistake of telling people I was coming to New Hampshire.’
“I tell them: ‘It’s not a mistake if you come to see us.’” It’s that personal touch that Guyette cites as her favorite part of the job: helping with event planning, advising for weddings, explaining what products to stock-up on and how much someone should get, ensuring someone isn’t underbuying or overbuying for their get-together and making sure special days are made even more special.
“I like to make sure there aren’t going to be any hiccups,” she says. “I really enjoy seeing the smiles on customers faces when we can help.” Step inside the new store and just beyond the six registers, guests will encounter a wide selection of wines, and beyond that, thousands of brands and styles of spirits. iPads have been set up to make searching for specific items easier, though Guyette says that customers are always welcome to lean on her team’s expertise. After all, when the doors opened to the new West Lebanon store in September and the number of items increased dramatically, making a decision on just the right item may have become slightly more challenging.
“The sheer scale of the new store is very inviting for customers and for employees as well,” Guyette says. “It’s much easier to maneuver around the store and we have great parking. It’s set back a little off the main road so it’s a slightly quieter location, but we’re still right in the middle of downtown West Lebanon. It’s very easy to get in and out. People are going to love it.”
Written for Celebrate by Bill Burke.