An “operator at heart,” Wyatt, beverage category manager for Mapco, Brentwood, Tenn., has found his passion on the buyer’s side of the desk in craft and imported beer.
Q: How do operations and category management compare?
A: In operations, you had an army of employees who worked directly under your guidance and direction. In this role, your vendor and supplier community are your employees. They’re the ones who will be able to execute your programs and direction. We’re not directly paying their salary, but indirectly we are. The better we perform, the better our supplier community performs.
Q: What excites you about the beer category?
A: What can we do differently with beer in our stores to set us apart from the guy down the street? We’re all pretty much serving the same liquid. Obviously you can drop your price, sell at or below cost to get more foot traffic in the store, but we operate off pretty stingy margins. So the biggest excitement for me is being able to differentiate our stores from our competition, offering more variety, a pick-six and growler programs. Those are things we’ve implemented to make ourselves a destination.
Q: How has your approach to craft beer changed?
A: Originally, we placed fast movers (e.g., domestic premium, superpremium) in the cooler doors. We placed crafts and imports in the beer cave, because you can have more variety in there. But then we brought crafts/imports to the cooler doors so the customer doesn’t have to stand in the cave to decide what he/she wants. We want this product in prime placement inside our cooler doors so customers can stand in the comfort of the store to shop and decide.
“Damian’s sharp instincts and extensive knowledge in the beverage and c-store environment allows our team to push creative boundaries.”