​Cider Corner: Is Adding a Second Location the Right Path?

As illustrated by Fieldwork Brewing in California, opening a new taproom instead of seeking shelf space in new locations has been a growth driver. Can it translate for some cideries?

It was the choice for Rebel Seed Cider — and sister winery Harvest Ridge — when the Delaware-based cidery/winery opened a second location ​in Pennsylvania in May, 2018.

​”​It’s always a big investment and gamble to open another location, and obviously a lot of thought and discussion goes into it – not just doing it, but then the decisions about where to do it,” said Sofia Horvath, the facility’s Social Media Director. “We have been able to hit a whole new crowd of cider drinkers that may not have heard of us previously — even being less than two hours away from our first location.

“It is a great way to expand our brand recognition.”

That means finding a place that will be easily accessible; able to draw crowds; have a good cost for renting or even owning the property while noting surrounding businesses nearby.

“That can either help or hinder your business,” Horvath noted, adding that even something like parking needs to be assessed. “It all becomes a necessary part of the discussion.

“When deciding to open a second location, we needed to look very closely at the demographics of potential locations and how it might be similar or different from that of our first location.”

​Dressler Estate’s​ primary location is production only, with no sales on site.

​”​Technically speaking, our second location is our only true retail outlet, but it feels like our first real opportunity to interact with customers​,” said co-founder Olga Dressler.​

Pennsylvania ​law ​allows for satellite locations, and ​the Dresslers were able to partner with proprietors of an indoor farm market​ for a second space​.

​”All retail locations have their challenges but this particular location requires us to blaze a trail with unique products that are very different from the winery that was in place before​,” Dressler explained​. ​”​Our self-distribution is the majority of our sales, and we try to support that through our presence at farmers markets and events.​”​

That said, increasing distribution is more impactful for ​Dressler since ​its partnerships with bars, restaurants or retail locations — that understand ​the cidery’s philosophy — expands ​the reach to customers more than the two ​owners could ever do alone.

There is a big monetary advantage in the taproom ​versus selling outside with​ distribution​, added Kekionga Cider‘s Tyler Butcher​​.

“​The margins all go to your company and not split between your company, the distributor, and the end retailer​,” he pointed out​.​ “That being said, your taproom has a limited customer base whereas distributing has virtually no limits on who you can reach.

​”​I don’t think there really is a  wrong answer. Either way, you are expanding your market share.​”

Butcher said you just have to be careful of allocating all of your resources to distribution​.

“[There are] lower margins and a lot of things are out of your control when working with a distributor​,” he added, saying in the future Kekionga is looking at expanding both via distribution and by adding a second location​. ​”I think we learned the hard way that it takes time to be self sufficient with distribution.​”

​Horvath did say that Rebel Seed Cider is still learning​ that​ what works in one location doesn’t necessarily work in the new location​.

“And on the flip side, we have found things that are hugely successful in our new location that might not gain much traction at our first location​,” she said​. ​

​You can figure​ out  some things before opening​ another location, ​but Horvath said inevitably there ​some things you end up learning as you go, and ​you will have to ​adjust accordingly.​

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