Shane Mabry wants to make sure he has the best alcohol selection in every one of GPM Investments’ 1,404 stores.

His vision and purpose overseeing the adult-beverage category for the Richmond, Virginia-based c-store chain is a key reason Mabry was named a 2023 recipient of CSP’s Category Manager of the Year Award in alcohol packaged beverages.

Mabry has helmed the effort at GPM, a subsidiary of ARKO Corp., since August 2021, honing his skills in market planning, retail category management and sales operations.

He cites a “flavor first” phenomenon, particularly with malt-based releases and canned ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails that have powered up the category.

“People are more money-conscious now than they were during covid, when they had more disposable income.”

Discuss the company’s everyday low-price strategy that has built solid loyalty over the years—particularly now that people are hunting for deals?
We instituted an everyday low pricing strategy and only waver from it when we endure price increases from suppliers. The strategy is consistent year-round and touches every adult beverage segment in the stores.

What is the chain’s overarching philosophy on price and promotion?
It starts by providing supreme value. People are more money-conscious now than they were during COVID, when they had more disposable income. It’s imperative now to provide that value for them through strategic discounts. In one [market area], we struggled with [the take rate] on domestic beer 15-packs and were eager to recapture volume. We unveiled a two-month discount around it and experienced great results.

It seems that part of the post-pandemic trend is a shift back to singles over multipacks. Can you elaborate?
Single sales have become meaningful to a growing number of consumers. We had long offered deals where customers were able to select two singles from the same brands, such as two Mike’s Hard, two White Claws. But in the spring of 2022, we introduced a permanent cross-brand mix-and-match program and saw sales of mix-and-match singles increase just under 10%.

How do you manage promotions?
We unveil five promotional cycles through the year and look at every period [to evaluate] new merchandising opportunities, asking what segments need help. The summer May-to-September planning period always delivers the most dollars and units. GPM stores saw all adult beverages grow 9% in 2022, with units up 1.7%. Beer imports, flavored malt [beverages] and canned cocktails [led by BeatBox and Buzztails] were the top three adult-beverage segments. With canned wine, we did not see the sales we had hoped for after a strong start [in 2019], but it did perform better with wine tetra packs. Craft beers grew 6% in 2022, with single sales leading the way.

What are some challenges you endure?
The chronic issue continues to be out-of-stocks, plus an issue with distributors who have faced driver shortages.

What are the most popular package formats in stores?
Stores had a strong year with Modelo and Corona 12-packs and Busch Light 30-packs, the latter serving as the No. 4 package across the entire network. The key was value. … With RTD canned cocktails, eight-packs performed very well [over four-packs].