The SOMM Journal

August / September 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 24 of 132

24 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2015 { real somm stories } ASSOCIATE GLOBAL BEVERAGE BUYER, WHOLE FOODS MARKET story and photo by Anthony Head For Master Sommelier Devon Broglie, retail success starts at the "street level." "THERE ARE NO MAGIC ZIP CODES," Master Sommelier Devon Broglie says by way of explaining how sometimes there are purchasing head-scratchers, even at Whole Foods Market. "Some wines sell like gang - busters in one region and not another. Yet, that might change the next month. That's one aspect of this job that I may not figure out anytime soon—but I'm consistently fascinated that the experience of shopping in any Whole Foods wine department has consistency." Along with Whole Foods' Global Beverage Buyer Doug Bell, Broglie is responsible for coordinating the programming of wines, beers, and spirits for all 400-plus stores of this national chain, so he certainly sees consistency that he's helped put in place. But his challenge right now is maintaining such levels of consistency while the Austin, Texas–based company expands its presence nationally. "The growth that we're experiencing is astronomical," Broglie says. "We're keenly aware we're going to need to source product"—specifically, wine, for this conversation—"for all those new stores. We feel strongly that we want to continue doing that in the same manner as we've done it to this point." Broglie is referring to the strong regionalism that drives Whole Foods' global picture, allowing individual stores in eleven regions to make some purchasing decisions based on what they're excited about and what their customers want them to carry. "It's one of the strengths of our company—to be nimble and learn from street level innovation what's happening. And then we consider it our global responsibility to scale that up across the company," Broglie says. In many such cases, suppliers don't already have the scale for national dis - tribution, so Whole Foods works with them to grow their business. "They begin to provide the quantity of wine we need, and they get national distribution. We're setting ourselves up for future growth by developing those kinds of relationships now." Despite this Master Somm's well-rounded backstory, including restau - rant, winery and importing experience, Broglie demonstrates a noticeable enthusiasm for retail and enjoys thinking through the intricacies of getting great wine into more hands. He points out that, unlike in a restaurant, you don't have to talk to someone at Whole Foods to take home a bottle of wine, so the wines have to communicate their stories on their own. Empowering individual stores to make more purchasing decisions—com - bined with a robust global view to guide the process—provides the plat- form for value and the structure for success within myriad wine categories. "The customer absolutel y views us as a filter and their advocate. So every wine that we sell has a reason to be on the shelf; that's what I want our customers to know. But I still think that the most fascinating—though not entirely satisfying—piece of retail interaction is that I can be so excited about a wine, but once I hand it off to a customer, I have to let it go." Devon Broglie, MS

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The SOMM Journal - August / September 2015