Specialty Food Magazine

JUL-AUG 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 109 of 207

Making It His Own Rosen's history with Arrowine & Cheese goes back several decades, when he was hired at the age of 18 to work in that very location, then named Cheese and Bottle, in the Lee Heights shopping center in Arlington. Working under the shopping center's owner, J. Newman Carter, Rosen developed his palate—and passion—for cheese and wine. After working at an array of wine retailers for more than 15 years, in 1993 Rosen took a hiatus to join the manage- ment team at Starbucks, where he helped establish the coffee chain on the East Coast. His love of wine never waned, though, and a chance run-in with Carter resulted in an offer to take over the store, which had since been renamed Arrowine by a former partner. Starting in 1999 as a managing partner, Rosen soon bought out his partners and made the market his own. Self-taught wine expert Shemsedin Hassen, with whom Rosen had worked at past retailers and developed a bond over their similar—Rosen would say identical—palates, became co- owner in 2002. "When I came here, the first thing I did was get rid of all the dead inventory," Rosen says. Until then, the shop had been run with a bottom-line focus. After his stint at Starbucks, Rosen knew he would diverge from the conglomerate's style, with a focus on quality, not margin, to grow the business. And keeping a top-of-the-line inventory was key. He added a deli case and doubled the size of the cheese counter. His commitment to fine cheeses, and the explo- sion of that department (which today has five mongers), sparked a name change to Arrowine & Cheese in 2010. Another key move was to edit sharply the specialty food SKUs. "Our grocery selections were too vast. There was no depth," he explains. By clearing out unnec- essary shelving, the dedicated wine space grew, with packaged products acting as pre- mium complements. Today the handpicked JULY/AUGUST 2012 87 brands includes Cavanna Pasta, Spice and Tea Exchange, Shore Boy Soups, Kill Devil Coffee, Simply Sausage and Stonewall Kitchen. Olive oil dispensers, refilled weekly, and an olive bar adjacent to the cheese counter round out the collection of specialty goods. Curating Quality Building relationships with winemakers has been the driving factor behind Rosen's criti- cally acclaimed European-focused picks— several of which he was the first to offer in the United States, such as Moutard Champagne. When meeting with vendors and sam- pling wines to establish his selection, "I found myself liking some people's work," he recalls. If one winemaker's product stood out, he wanted to see more of what he or she had to offer. So he began arranging trips to France and elsewhere to visit wineries and develop relationships with top winemakers. He now travels several times a year making these visits, as well as attending trade shows throughout Europe. The advantages of his meticulous pro- cess extend beyond quality. An emphasis on small-scale wines allows for flexibility in inventory and trends. "We can turn around on a dime, and we can react to what's hap- pening in the market," Rosen explains. And customers ultimately benefit from com- petitive pricing. "Because we're doing the direct work, our pricing structures are bet- ter," he notes. When customers visit the store inquiring about well-known brands Arrowine doesn't carry, Rosen has a simple explanation: "Because for less money we can give you a better product." The ability to influence shoppers to try something new stems from the staff 's reputable expertise but also its relationship with customers. "People order wine here without tasting it," Rosen says. "There's trust. And when you move millions of dol-

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