Friday, April 16, 2010

Joe's Extreme Makeover

Posted By on Fri, Apr 16, 2010 at 6:15 AM

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Joe’s Wine & Liquor in Midtown unveiled its new look about a month ago, and yesterday, I finally stopped by to check it out.

In a word: Wow!

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The old Joe’s is no longer recognizable. By expanding into the old Peter Pan space, the store is roughly twice as large. Where it was once admittedly claustrophobic, it is now expansive.

I got a tour by the Flyer’s wine columnist Michael Hughes, who is Joe’s general manager and wine club director.

“Working in a well-designed space is so underrated,” Michael says. “It changes the mind-set. It’s calmer.”

The design was done by John Harrison Jones Architect. There are green tile accents all over and pretty wood shelves for the wines. Gleaming coolers bracket the south end of the store.

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Curved lines (as seen in the large check-out counter), the color scheme, and the smart round light fixtures are a clever homage to the mid-century tone that is set by the famous Sputnik sign.

The larger space has allowed Joe’s to expand its inventory as well as offer lower prices.

“More stock, more new products,” Michael says, explaining that they now have the capacity to physically house all the items and are also able to bargain more with distributors.

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Case in point are the wines from Woodward Canyon, which are normally only available for purchase at the Washington state winery. There’s also a more generous beer selection in the coolers, for which Joe’s owner is busily gathering all the Trappist monk beers he can get his hands on. “Joe’s 2 Pack” wine deal offers two of the same wines for a 20 percent discount, which can mean as much as $30 savings from the case price.

In addition to “bigger” and “more,” another word that I heard during my visit was “linear.” The wines on the shelves and in the coolers are now arranged by country or region — France, Italy, etc.

“Organization is very welcoming,” Michael says.

Joe's Wine & Liquor, 1681 Poplar (725-4252)

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