by: Beth Mattson-Teig
Shopping Centers Today magazine
Anyone seeking to sample some of Deer Creek Winery’s roughly 20 varieties will come up dry at the local liquor store or bottle shop. A search over at the local shopping center, however, could yield a happy result.
Rhonda and Denis Brooks knew in 2009 when they launched their Pennsylvania-based winery that they wanted to interact directly with their customers, so that they could share their stories and their passion for wines. But a visit out to the nearly 100-acre winery, in Shippenville, Pa., some two hours from Pittsburgh, was anything but convenient for many. The winery would have to go out to these customers, as it were. “We started with the retail locations because people were asking us for them,” said co-owner Rhonda, who is married to Denis and is speaking for this article. “We kept hearing people say, ‘Oh, I wish it was closer.’ ”
The couple tested their mall strategy in 2010 with a kiosk at Clarion (Pa.) Mall that wound up doing very well. Today, besides the main winery, the company operates five stores across the state, the most recent of which opened in September at McCandless (Pa.) Crossing, about 10 miles from Pittsburgh. The others are at Beaver Valley Mall, in Monaca; Clearview Mall, in Butler; Kohl’s Plaza, in Hermitage; and The Mall at Robinson, in Pittsburgh.
“We had several national retailers to start off the [McCandless] project, and then we were really looking for some smaller businesses to bring that local flavor into the development,” said Anna Dougherty, marketing and social-media coordinator for Adventure Development, developer of the 1.2 million-square-foot, mixed-use McCandless Crossing project. Deer Creek Winery not only fit the bill but also offered shoppers an interesting experience, Dougherty says.
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