…Of course they will continue to exist. I anticipate them downsizing and repurposing spaces for other things but the social factor that has appealed to the community isn’t going to disappear. We’ve seen malls repurpose excess retail space to office space, building more community group playgrounds and creating more beautified space to make the social experience of mall shopping to be a more zen and enjoyable experience.
As part of our series about the future of retail, I had the pleasure of interviewing JC Stock.
For as long as he can remember, JC Stock has been running a business. At the age of seven he worked at delivering newspapers, and at age nine he worked at mowing lawns. In 2006, he began his first national service company, and within five years had grown his business from a single employee to 10. Today, JC owns and operates five companies which consist of over 30 employees and four locations from coast to coast. Driven by success, a desire for growth, and the luxury of simplicity, he has been able to break the mold. When he isn’t working, he is playing. As a home brewer, he knows the pride and satisfaction an artisan gets when someone tries and enjoys one of his carefully crafted brews.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Sure! Thank you for having me. I have been home brewing my own beer for many years. It is a passion for me to create something and my favorite part of it is the amount of excitement and pride I feel when I get to share what I have created with my friends and loved ones. I almost get giddy on the edge of my seat to see their reaction. I love working with passionate people and I have had the opportunity to meet and build some wonderful relationships with our distillers and brands who share that passion and pride for creating something for people to enjoy.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
It’s got to be the conventions we go to. We go to them to taste spirits for the shop. I have this memory of the Brooklyn Bar Convention in New York. We left the hotel at 10am drinking 20–30 mini half ounce shots, ubering back to the hotel at noon and sleeping for 2 hours, then going back to the convention, again taking copious amounts of mini shots… then back to the hotel and then an after party to continue networking. It takes a lot of planning to map out how much you can consume and still manage to have cognizant conversation and sales pitches.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?
So, in order to get a liquor license and start our business selling craft spirits, I ended up buying a convenience store. So this meant I inherited a slew of everything from toilet paper to condoms, and sticks of gum in our inventory to start off. Figuring out what to do with all of the expired canned goods and such was pretty comical.
Are you working on any new exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
Yes! We have officially launched our Whiskey Club. After 2 years of R&D we recognized trends in our consumer base that showed how much they LOVE whiskey and our one time buy “Whiskey Shots Box” was becoming our most popular item in the shop, but customers wanted even more! So, We decided to build an entire club around whiskey where our subscribers can get 10 new whiskeys every other month and share their experiences with other fellow club members. We have now launched the club and are offering a free 200ML bottle to the first 100 subscribers!
We built this club with the idea of teaching the consumer to become the whiskey expert and develop their palate. Inside every whiskey box is a whiskey tasting journal with terms and definitions of different whiskey types. The Journal not only helps tasters with proper terms, but it helps them keep a log of what spirits they actually enjoyed to review at a later date. Our mission, ultimately, is to help you “discover your new favorite spirit”.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Drink more whiskey!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful, who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I was so lucky to have many mentors when I was a young man. I grew up in Utah, which is a state fairly well known for its many entrepreneurs. My mentors growing up started companies, I ended up working for a few of them during their start up phases as a teenager. This allowed me to learn from their mistakes as well as from their success. It was incredibly invaluable to my success now, to learn first hand from these mentors. The fact that they were so open to sharing their knowledge, enabled me to do some amazing things for my family and businesses.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
At the moment we have a fulfilling partnership with the Thirst Project where for every bottle sold we donate to a country that does not have access to clean water.
Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share five examples of different ideas that large retail outlets are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?
Well, our business is primarily based online. I can share that our customers are looking for things like:
-convenience of not having to leave home to shop and receive an order
-an easy shopping experience
-great customer service
So many of our customers recognize that we are a small business, and they feel good about supporting small businesses over larger chains.
In your opinion, will retail stores or malls continue to exist? How would you articulate the role of physical retail spaces at a time when online commerce platforms like Amazon Prime or Instacart can deliver the same day or the next day?
Of course they will continue to exist. I anticipate them downsizing and repurposing spaces for other things but the social factor that has appealed to the community isn’t going to disappear. We’ve seen malls repurpose excess retail space to office space, building more community group playgrounds and creating more beautified space to make the social experience of mall shopping to be a more zen and enjoyable experience.
The so-called “Retail Apocalypse” has been going on for about a decade. While many retailers are struggling, some retailers, like Lululemon, Kroger, and Costco are quite profitable. Can you share a few lessons that other retailers can learn from the success of profitable retailers?
It seems the ability of online adaptation is the key to surviving the “Retail Apocalypse”. Our business sales started 99% online, which enabled us to minimize our upfront costs and grow our consumer base as we grew. I think the appeal to online sales, delivery, drive through services, free shipping incentives etc all contribute to the success of retail stores surviving this unique time.
Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise to retail companies and e-commerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?
The reality is although many people prefer to pay the least amount possible, there is a great pride in buying “made in the USA”/ American made products. Supporting small business, and American-made products is very valuable, and many people prioritize this as meaningful to them, as they contribute to the US economy and get a sense of purpose from doing so. I think focusing on this idea allows us to help contribute to our national economy while fostering healthy pride.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Our partnership with Thirst Project is extremely important to me. Giving back to people in need has always hit ‘close to home’ for me. I don’t come from a wealthy background, or old money in my family’s history. So what I have built through my career as an entrepreneur, I want to use that to benefit others’ lives. When someone purchases bottles in our shop, we donate a portion to this organization to go toward building wells for entire communities in need to clean water. To know that as our business grows, we are able to help reach more people in need, is so meaningful to me.
How can our readers further follow your work?
You can subscribe to our newsletter at shotsbox.com and follow us on Facebook & Instagram @Shots_Box
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!