In the Heart of New Orleans, Grande Krewe Fine Wine and Spirits Has Become the Life of the Party

Tucked away in the Faubourg Marigny, a neighborhood adjacent to New Orleans’ famous French Quarter, you may find yourself face to face with an eye-catching sandwich board, ushering you into Grande Krewe Fine Wine and Spirits. There, you’ll find a wonderland of wines and liquors, and a spirited attitude to top it all off. 

We spoke with one of Grande Krewe’s owners, Jane Cooper, about the ins and outs of operating an independent liquor store in the heart of New Orleans, and how Small Biz Sense has helped their business grow and adapt since its opening on Bastille Day of 2015. 

Grande Krewe was a thriving brick-and-mortar business before the pandemic. They have found new ways to grow over the past two years. This includes a move into eCommerce and scale up to celebrate Mardi Gras. With Small Biz Sense as their technology partner, Grande Krewe’s business has geared up for events, both big and small, and has been able to weather anything that’s been thrown their way. 

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New Orleans: Dreaming

All of this began in 2005. Jane Cooper ran a New Orleans-based health advocacy firm when Hurricane Katrina struck. She was unable to leave New Orleans because the majority of it had been submerged. So she moved temporarily to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where Bob, her husband, and future business partner. 

The couple began to grow in their love and shared a common dream: one day to move back to New Orleans to start their own liquor and wine business. Another couple, a New Orleans-based couple, Carla Arriola and Roy Arriola were recruited and the pair made it happen. They opened their doors to customers in 2015. 

But Cooper was the first to admit: “We knew nothing about retail. We knew nothing about selling wine.” So, how did they find a way to operate a business that would fit their current needs, and allow them to scale up in the future? Small Biz Sense was the answer. 

“We identified Small Biz Sense as our retail point of sale partner from the very beginning,” said Cooper, citing the system’s convenience from day one and its ability to grow with them over the past six years. The combination of Grande Krewe’s love for what they do and their ability to harness a one-stop commerce solution allows them to focus their energy on their business that has held the key to their success.

 

A part of the Local Community

Grande Krewe’s vibrant local community has supported their growth and their emergence as a local institution. From the very beginning, Grande Krewe has been a celebration of New Orleans’ unique character, starting with their name: 

“You know that some of the best wine in France is Grand Cru,” explains Cooper. But in New Orleans, “Krewe ” is the word for the independent organizations that put on Mardi Gras. “The people that belong to these krewes put on the parades.” So their name, like their store, comes from a long tradition of excellence in wine, as well as the local color that makes New Orleans world famous. 

And what about those people—both locals and tourists—who gather to celebrate Mardi Gras each year in New Orleans? Grande Krewe’s customers come to them in one of the most busy seasons of the year, during what is arguably the largest international celebration. “We want to make sure that people buy their alcohol at Grande Krewe, as opposed to trying to go to the grocery store and adding it to their cart when they’re buying their potato chips and hot dogs,” says Cooper. 

Their success at an event of such magnitude as Mardi Gras is down to the following: “Plan ahead and allow enough time to develop a work plan, assign responsibilities, and just make sure that you aren’t waiting until the last minute.” Never underestimate the amount of planning that goes into a big event, even one that seems as spontaneous as Mardi Gras. 

 

Opportunities for Growth… Even in Hard Times

But it hasn’t been all champagne and parade floats for the Grande Krewe Team. The COVID-19 pandemic caused Mardi Gras to be cancelled in 2021. This meant that the Grande Krewe Team had to manage their business with no major money-maker. They did what? Adapt. Small Biz Sense brought a range of products for them to explore a totally new way of conducting business. 

“One of the biggest successes we’ve had is with eCommerce,” Cooper explains. Grande Krewe had the good fortune to be able to just move all their inventory catalogue online after businesses decided to close their doors. It made it simple for them to switch to a take-out business model. 

“So when people moved to online ordering because they were locked down, we didn’t have to scramble to build that inventory on our eCommerce site. It was already up and running. And it’s a very elegant linkage to our inventory,” explains Cooper. Small Biz Sense’s eCommerce tools allowed them to sync up their inventory easily and remain operational over the past two years. They can also prepare easily for large events by using the robust inventory tracking system. This allows them to see what was sold and how many. 

 

Celebrate the Return

With Mardi Gras back on for this year and the prospect of international tourism looking brighter in the spring, Grande Krewe’s future looks bright as well. With great ratings on Google, and even better word of mouth, this independent spirits store is happy to keep building its reputation as a community institution for celebrations—both small and world famous. With a little assistance from Small Biz Sense Commerce their global business partner, they accomplish all of this. 

If you’d like to learn more about Small Biz Sense and what it can do for your business, start by checking out our free demo.

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Cyndy Lane