Not Your Dad’s Liquor Store
Area’s Newest ABC to Rock!

With many finishing touches underway, Chip Chagnon, Tony Ursone, and Paul Brown stop for a brief photo opp. The store hopes to open sometime in November.

BRIDGETON – “Here, try a sip of this. I think you’ll enjoy it.”  You may hear those words, or similar phrases, from congenial marketers like Tony Ursone of Outer Banks Distilling who is eager to reserve time behind the unique and novel ‘taste testing’ counter.

Ursone is absolutely convinced that an opportunity for customers to sample some of his signature brand, ‘Kill Devil Rum,’ while they are in the store will be stupendous.

I asked him to concisely describe what he foresees as the experience:

‘Liquid to lips’ is a term we use in the industry to describe direct tasting opportunities. When consumers get to try products, assuming that the products are enjoyable, the conversion rate is higher than if they just go off of visual marketing material/labels.

An educated consumer is more likely to purchase your product with confidence once they have tried it out. Craven County’s Tasting Station allows a space for consumers to sample products they may not have tried previously, which is important for smaller brands like ours.

Having a well-run ABC board like Craven County is an asset for both the consumer and the state by offering more product choices, an efficient operating system, and an increase in tax revenue.

Earlier this month (just one day before his wedding) Ursone stopped by the future Hwy 17 store to hobnob with Paul Brown, general manager of Craven County ABC operations; and, with Chip Chagnon, chairman of the ABC board. To his credit, the quick-witted Chagnon knew the brand well, and made it a point to suggest ‘Tony, be sure to mention all of that pecan flavor in your rum.’

For the record, Kill Devil Rum is available in all of the state’s ABC stores at $29.95 per bottle. The beverage makes an ideal Christmas gift for every over-age-21 member of the family!

The New Bern-based architectural firm known as ‘mbf’ gets high marks from Chagnon for its thorough oversight of the project. I asked Emily Sigmon, associate architect with mbf, to give Compass readers some of her perspective:

Chairman Chip Chagnon and the Craven County ABC Board contracted with mbf Architects to create a state-of-the-art facility that would elevate the patron shopping experience and offer room for future growth. Unique elements are incorporated into the Bridgeton store to enhance the facility, including the Board’s identifiable green trim, upgraded finishes, murals depicting the character of Craven County, and a tasting bar to showcase local distillers.

The design of the 1.4-acre site is critical to effectively incorporate a 4,700 square foot retail store, a 12,000 square foot joint warehouse and administration building, a water quality pond, adequate parking for the users of both facilities, with safe & easy access to the site. The Craven County ABC Board has been collaborative, encouraging, and a pleasure to work with.

Next week, more on how Chagnon and crew made the tough decision to go with that ‘identifiable green’ color, and perhaps a hint or two as to when doors will open for the first time!