There’s something special about the way the community supports small businesses in Alphabet City, an area on the east side of Lower Manhattan in New York. But when foot traffic was unexpectedly eliminated, neighborhood institutions like ABC Beer Company had to get creative and adapt.
In 2012, when Zach Mack and David Hitchner opened ABC, a bar and retail beer store, they received a pretty harsh welcome message: Hurricane Sandy. The Hurricane made landfall in New York City just one week after they opened, leaving many, including ABC, without any power and with extensive property damage.They were able to quickly clean up the damage and open up shop, for the second time, just a few days later.
Having already experienced one natural disaster, Zach and David didn’t panic when COVID-19 arrived in NYC. Thankfully, the governor designated liquor stores essential businesses, so they could remain open for patrons to purchase beer. “We had to have a very sudden conversation that we were both on the same page about, which was making sure that we keep our employees and customers safe first and foremost, and that we were able to serve the community in some way.”
They expanded their existing snack selection to include basic grocery items like pasta and milk to make it easier for locals to minimize their shopping time. Because they have a loyal group of regular patrons at the bar, the ABC team knew they could rely on a steady stream of local delivery and pick-up orders to help support their business during an uncertain time. But in order to keep the business running, they’d need to think bigger than just the confines of Alphabet City, which meant launching their out-of-state delivery option.
“Following Covid, we were seeing between a quarter to a third of our sales go online. It really helped soften the blow from losing all the draft beer sales”
Launching national shipping was no easy task–the regulations around shipping alcohol differ from state to state in the U.S.–but in order to ensure that they could rely on this new revenue stream, in addition to their impressive selection of beer, ABC needed to make sure their brand was visually appealing to both new and existing customers.
Working closely with seller coljamz, a graphic designer also based in NYC, Zach and David were able to collaborate on a new visual identity for the store. ABC worked directly with the Seller on a variety of different artistic directions for their new logo. “I was blown away by how quickly our logo prospects came back from him, it was days.” Once they settled on a new logo, coljamz created a comprehensive brand identity with new colors and visual guidelines to implement across their website and social media.
With a new brand identity, ABC worked with digital marketing expert sharonthony to create a new social media strategy to attract a new audience of customers, not just in NYC but across the whole country. With sharonthony’s help, they created a series of Instagram and Facebook ads to share with the right audience of prospective customers.
Even as bars like ABC start offering outdoor seating in NYC, Zach and David have no plans of slowing down their expansion into online sales. They are also planning to update their website, with new product photography and e-commerce platform optimizations. By adapting their retail model, ABC Beer Co. is ready to continue to grow in this new digital normal.