Roger Wilco is known for its unmistakably strong presence in South Jersey and these days, now so even more. The discount liquor store with the signature dome roof recently renovated its interior for a brand-new modern look. The beer cave, tap station, wine country, and beer hangar are just a few of the improvements that are making the shopping experience easy and fun at Roger Wilco. After months of “pardon our appearance,” the store is ready to start a new chapter and is placing the shopper in the pilot’s seat.
Aside from a new face and revived focus on customer service, the store remains committed to its strong ethos that dates back to 1984 when Elliot and Joseph Arking acquired Roger Wilco. The store was a labor of love for the brother duo, and with grit, patience, and explosive growth of sister company Wines ‘Til Sold Out (WTSO), it grew from a small business to what we see today weathering all kinds of economy. The store is now run by Jamie Arking, who joined the family business 10 years ago after working in biotech and living in San Diego. Heady Times took a trip to the new store to learn from Jamie what it was like running oncology divisions of companies and working with protein chemistry. While there, we also chatted up Roger Wilco’s new store appearance, and their approach to staying abreast of the ever-evolving, high-minded customer.
Heady Times (HT): We are excited about your new look. What upgrades and improvements have you done to the store?
Jamie Arking (JA): We renovated everything! Specifically, the redesign helped clear out older inventory to make room for new flavors and products for our customers. It also helped us move products around and clear up sections throughout the store so that wine, beer, and spirits now all have designated and easy-to-find areas. In addition, we launched a new wine tasting area in the front of the store that is staffed by our on-site Certified Sommelier.
In late September, we celebrated our renovation with family, friends, and the local community during a jam-packed weekend that included a meet and greet with former Eagles player Tra Thomas, appearances, samples, and pairings from local restaurants, and big-ticket raffles and giveaways.
HT: You talk about delivering a high-touch experience to your customer-base. How do you stay on top?
JA: We focus on breadth of product and a spectacular customer service experience. When you walk in everyone is approached. We’re constantly educating employees to have the knowledge they need to help any type of customer that walks through our door.
Our goal is to be the best in class, so we need competitive pricing on everything. We look at our competitors and work towards being first to market with new products. We place a big focus on convenience. It’s all about convenience and to be very competitive the experience in the store must be memorable. We want the customer to walk away saying the store looks great, and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable.
HT: What are some of the ways you’re offering convenience to customers and do you feel like this is just the beginning?
JA: Look around and you’ll notice how the customer has evolved in general. If they want something, they’ll pick up their phone and order it. We are pushing delivery and pick-up hard, with first delivery free, $4.99 all the time, and if you spend more than $60, the delivery fee is $.99. We’re trying to do all kinds of stuff and just launched an easy-to-use app to place an order.
Our priority is still to show that it’s worthwhile coming into the store as it’s easier to see something on the shelf than on your phone. But we know it’s hard to get in sometimes so we have a text “Roger” to 39771 service, and the customer can place any special requests or see if we have something in stock. They are then automatically added to our giveaway pull each month.
Another convenience worth noting is ready-to-drink canned and bottled cocktails, which have taken off. The idea that you are your own bartender opens all sorts of possibilities. I can’t wait to see what comes next in this market.