Our friends at Gin Foundry are hosting pop up stores this Christmas. With the help of WBC’s BRIX modular display system, they’ve been able to take their pop up store all across London. Pop it up, pack it back down and rebuild in a new place. We popped by their recently opened King’s Road pop-up store last week, and asked them a few questions about what they’re up to, how they’re doing it and what the future holds for the world of gin.
A Q&A with Gin Foundry’s Emile Ward
Gin Foundry started out as a source of independent reviews for gin, how does Gin Kiosk relate to the business?
Gin Foundry was founded as a business in 2014/15, but we have been writing about gins on a blog since 2007.
The ethos behind Gin Foundry is to celebrate all things gin. For us that includes the producers behind it, and the craftsmanship that goes into making it. We are an independent voice in the sector, and the leading website for gin internationally. Our aim is to educate consumers, so we do everything from running events called Junipalooza in the UK and Australia, host tasting events in our tasting room in Fulham and do tasting wheels, and an annual Ginvent calendar. Essentially it’s all about education.
Gin Kiosk, is a UK based online platform selling craft gins and is the sister company to Gin Foundry. The priority is to stay true to the world of craft gins, offering products that are slightly harder to come by. It’s our first venture into commercial retail and we’re excited to see it growing rapidly so far.
Why do you think gin has grown in popularity over the last few years?
There’s not really one thing that’s caused this growth. Big names such as Gordon’s, Hendricks, Bombay Sapphire and the businesses behind them such as Diageo, invested heavily into the category as they saw a future for it. The cocktail culture has also started growing again, and gin is one of the favourite spirits for mixing them. There’s also been a growing fascination with all things artisan, products that are ‘craft’ and made ‘by hand’ in small batches. Gin is, and has always been, a quintessentially British drink which is also a factor to consider.
As a spirit, it’s also very appealing to make. You don’t have to wait, like you do with whisky and some other spirits. You can also put anything you want into it… so it’s an attractive option.
Essentially, the more gins in the category, the better for our business. Which is why we also have to be careful. Keep our values intact and try to decipher between what’s a marketing gimmick and what’s real. It’s our job to do that and try to educate the consumer as much as possible. It has been a really fantastic journey for us, and the growth of gin is now not just in the UK, but all around the world.
Who is your usual clientele?
It seems to attract people who have a real interest in craft gin. However in regards to age groups, our clientele groups into 25-35 and 45-65, with a gap in between. In the beginning we saw the clients being mostly female, however now it’s a lot more 50 / 50. There’s a lot more male interest in gins now.
Is King’s Road, Chelsea your first pop up store?
Yes, our first pop up retail store. We’ve done several pop-ups in our lifetime, but nothing that’s got a physical store frontage. Previously we ran more tastings, events, gin festivals but this is very much the first retail store we’ve had.
Next weekend we’re hosting a tasting event at the Vinyl Factory (few last minute tickets are still available) in Soho. Instead of just buying gin, visitors are invited to try them in different G&T’s and cocktails. It’s more about celebrating Christmas and being ‘merry’.
Is a retail store something you might consider venturing into in the future?
Yes. Obviously depending on how well this goes. It’s proven to be quite popular so far, but the idea is to do another one every quarter next year, in each area of London – North London, East London, West etc… Test the market and the time of the year. Hopefully then in 2019 we’ll look at our first and more permanent bricks & mortar store.
The thing is, it might not be great for sales as everything is slowly moving online. However it’s great for brand building and it puts a face to the brand. As long as the online business can hold up a store, then it’s something we’ll do. We find it fascinating what people actually grab on the shelves, and what stands out to them and why… you can do exclusives, and lots of really cool stuff.
What is the Ginvent calendar?
We had the idea several years ago and have now been selling the calendar for about 5 or 6 years. We partnered up with a company called Drinks by the Dram. They do miniatures of every spirit in the world. We worked with them to collate a collection of gins for this advent calendar.
Plus all the gins we’re selling here in store are gins that are in our advent calendar. They’re brilliant businesses, so we really just wanted to highlight their products and work.
Why did you choose the BRIX modular display system for your pop up stores?
We’ve known about WBC for a long time. My mother has a shop on Goodge Street in London. We really like your products and the BRIX especially for the look and feel of it. It’s the exact aesthetic we want to go for. The metal, dark wood, it’s just the nicest product to highlight the brands of gins we sell and promote.
How long did it take you to build this?
We received the products about 12.30pm and we literally opened our doors to the public at 3pm. It took a few hours to build and get everything up and merchandised, but it was so simple and straightforward, it took hardly any time.
Did you find it simple enough or was it difficult? Did you plan what you were going to achieve before you built it?
Super easy! Everything made sense. It’s like big lego build which is what makes it easy. As we didn’t know what the store had in store for us, it was a bit harder as we just had to improvise on the day. We think we made the most of the space we had with the products. BRIX is so modular and it’s great how you can have multiple units and stands, instead of just one.
You bought some branded products from WBC, is gifting a big thing for your business?
Yes huge, our biggest months are November and December. We don’t really offer many gift options on our website – we don’t do wrapping options for example. So this is very much the beginning of something, and it’s proven to be very popular here over the last few days. I’ve been able to upsell people into 2 bottles, and it’s nice as you can put the tonic at the top. I plan to speak to my warehouse and then probably look at stocking this permanently.
Packaging is really difficult for us, because of glass and delivery of products. But gifting is HUGE and it’s one of the main things gin is used for. It’s a great gift especially this time of the year!
What do you hope to achieve in the next 12 months. Any big plans?
Yes and no. We will look to expand Junipalooza into a third city and explore more of these pop-up stores to test the waters.