One of the nation’s five largest liquor retailers has created sections within their stores for craft spirits. The 32-foot island pictured above is at the entrance to the whiskey section at Binny’s Beverage Depot’s flagship store in Chicago. It is comprised of eight, four-foot units, each containing three shelves on each side, for a total of 192 feet of shelf space devoted entirely to craft whiskey, moonshine and white whiskey. In the areas of the store devoted to other classes of spirits, the craft spirits are, for the most part, similarly grouped together.
“To some degree, it is the same throughout the chain, but it is more pronounced in the larger stores,” said Specialty Spirits Buyer Brett Pontoni. “Each of the stores has a personality, depending on where they are located.”
Pontoni said that Binny’s started carrying craft when the North Shore Distillery was founded 11 years ago. Since then, they have followed the growth of craft with the early regional distilleries, such as Great Lakes Distilling, in Milwaukee, and other early brands, such as Anchor Distilling, 209 Gin and Germain-Robin. Five or six years ago, the amount of craft spirits in the stores reached a critical mass, which allowed Binny’s—the largest liquor retailer in the Midwest—to separate craft whiskeys into their own section, making it easier for shoppers to find.