Every month we’ll be spotlighting a different Woodlands employee to connect you with our team and learn more about what they do day in and day out to keep their departments running smoothly. We appreciate our hard-working employees and want you to get to know them!
How long have you been employed here?
I joined Woodlands’ Kentfield store around 12 years ago as a part-time employee in the wine and liquor department. Previous to that, my first job in the business was working in Walnut Creek for Paul Bertolli of Chez Panisse and Oliveto. When I first came to work at Woodlands, I loved the community in Marin and appreciated being back in the grocery side of the wine world. This was after I had worked for Robert Mondavi Winery in the ’80s, followed by a major wine distributor in the ’90s. My love has always been working with people in an immediate way, and there’s no better situation for me than helping customers shop in a trusted atmosphere. When word got out that Woodlands was opening a San Francisco store last year, I gave them a call and we agreed that I would be a good fit for this location.
I prefer the grocery atmosphere as opposed to a boutique wine store-the interaction with the customer is more well-rounded. I’m able to look into their cart of food and suggest a wine that pairs well with their meal, or make a decision for a customer based on their individual taste. I love the customer service opportunities that comes with this role-it’s probably the most gratifying part of my career.
Can you describe your job for us?
Aside from dealing with the vendors and making sure the shelves are stocked, I’m always trying to make sure I have the selection of products necessary to provide the optimal choices for the customer. Curating the department is like playing a piano-you need all the keys to perform a symphony. But on the other hand, we need to wing it with some things as we don’t have much space! Our selection changes daily as a result, and our customers in this new part of San Francisco have responded surprisingly well. They’re not really brand-loyal, and very open to discovering new things.
“Discovery” is one of my main mantras in the hospitality world, and I’m very happy to work for a company that supports that philosophy!
Do you find that the bottles that you’re ordering are affected by the tastes of the store’s clientele?
For sure. One thing that was surprising to me was the demand for Cabernet Sauvignon, which isn’t a trend in other NorCal communities. And as they do in other areas, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose, and bubbly still fly off the shelves in San Francisco!
Our customers are also very open to trying wines from Spain, Italy, and France. We’ve been concentrating a lot on those and getting some great feedback. We are about fifty/fifty when it comes to sales of domestic and imported wines.
With beer, we spend a bit more time on the Belgian styles than the Marin stores, and we’ve noticed a trend in SF towards fresher, fizzy-type brews and ciders.
On the spirits side, we try to emphasize more local distilleries to balance the established, well-known brands, but we still offer Ketel One, Tito’s, and Four Roses and the like at a fair price!
What’s your favorite thing about working at Woodlands?
I love that Woodlands is a family company. I like the Santa family, and appreciate that they’re fair with their wages and benefits. I’m pretty self-motivated, so the freedom I have managing my department allows me to work in a more peaceful way that ultimately transfers into a better relationship with our customers.