If you’re looking for a place that sells some top notch wine & liquor, while offering the kind of personal service that is rather rare these days…look no further than Aligra Wine & Spirits. This fall they are also offering a luxurious trip to Chile & Argentina.
1. What interested you in having your own business? We have both owned businesses before – in the travel industry and interior design. The opportunity that presented itself with the wine and spirits store was too interesting and challenging to pass up. We recognized how low the bar was and wanted to raise it. We also bring our experience from the travel industry to this one, and see many similarities in the industry in terms of structure
2. What makes Aligra from other liquor stores? Our passion. We are both hands on in the business. We have created a unique and pleasant shopping environment for our customers. We provide quality for price and customers also enjoy friendly and knowledgeable service. We are marketing our products and services differently – not looking at this as simply a store that relies on walk by traffic only.
3. What are the most significant joys and struggles you have found in the first year of your business? More Joys –than struggles! We have satisfied returning customers from both near and afar. They tell us it’s because of our service, atmosphere and selection of specialty items unavailable in the chain stores and regular corner liquor stores. Another joy is being able to provide education for consumers about products and services in an unpretentious and fun way. We are working with Metro Continuing Education by holding classes in the store for Wine Appreciation, Scotch tastings etc. There are more planned for the fall and next winter. As for struggles, probably the intensity of a 7 day a week retail operation is the biggest one.
4. Is your family involved in the business? Not directly, but Alison’s Father, who is a Tax Accountant, keeps us straight with our books!
5. Tell us about any special events or tours you have coming up? We are excited about a few things we are planning right now. Look for a big Rum Event coming in September, a Robbie Burns Scotch event in January and our first annual Wine Tour – to Chile & Argentina scheduled for March 1-14, 2009. Our website will have all the details posted as they become confirmed. The wine tour is in place and we are looking for 10 – 15 people who would like to experience “The Grape Escape” during Vendimia, Chile and Argentina’s Grape Harvest.
6. What are your interests/hobbies outside of the business? Both Grant and I love to travel and that’s why we are introducing this element into our portfolio through the store. With the first year of a new business, we have not had any free time for hobbies outside the business, but in our short periods of time off, we like to read about wines and products we want to carry, research future wine tours, and stay in touch with our good friends.
7. What has been most unexpected thing about opening the store? Probably the number of wonderful repeat customers we have from both near and far in a location perceived to be a mall that attracts a lot of transient customers. At West Edmonton Mall, we benefit from interesting international customers staying at the Fantasyland Hotel or nearby motels, locals from the surrounding neighborhood where we are their closest liquor store, and, of course, hundreds of mall employees who are happy there is a well stocked and friendly liquor store within their midst.
8. What is the most craziest thing that has happened since opening the store? There have been many funny incidents! We should write a book! But probably the days when staff at the petting zoo in the mall walk by our store with animals that are represented on some of our wine labels. We have had photo ops with young Paul the Bull and a bottle of Angus the Bull Australian wine, Lily the Goat and a bottle of Goats do Roam from South Africa and so on. We are waiting for the Little Penguins to waddle past so we can get a photo with them and Little Penguin Wine! The Funky Llama has not strolled by yet either.
9. Has Edmonton been kind to you since you set up shop? We have met many friendly Edmontonians but haven’t been able to take advantage of the many festivals and events in the city due to our 7 day a week commitment to the shop. Until last week, many were wanting to kick us back to B.C. accusing us for bringing Vancouver weather here this spring! Thankfully the summer arrived just in time.
10. Can you name the top 10 items you would suggest someone should have in their liquor canine/wine cellar? Given that customers tastes range from $9.99 and up, for the everyday consumer we can suggest a number of great items to include. For a liquor cabinet – the new Pinnacle blueberry or grape vodkas, Havana Club 3 year old rum or the El Dorado rums in stock, Forth Creek Barrel aged Canadian Whisky, Tamdhu Single Malt Scotch, Montifaud XO Cognac, Meukow vanilla liqueur, Don Julio Anjeo Tequila, Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon.
For the wine cellar – Great whites at great prices – St. Hallett Poacher’s Blend – Semillion/Sauvignon Blanc from Australia , Jean Jean Rose from France, Cono Sur Gerwurtztraminer from Chile, Mud House Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Shug Chardonnay from Californina. For reds – Errazuriz Merlot from Chile, Los Vascos Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, Nugan Estate Shiraz from Australia, Sagramosso sangiovese from Italy, Amenz Rioja from Spain, Pepperwood Old Vines Zinfandel from California, and a great Malbec from Argentina – Don Rodolfo.
For discerning customers, we can certainly expand on these lists and cater to a number of budgets and tastes.
1423 West Edmonton Mall
Edmonton, AB T5T 4M2