We certainly don’t need a holiday to acknowledge a few of the important women in our company, but we’ll take the opportunity to do it now. These four women are the driving force behind some of the most important roles at Binny’s. We’re not sure where we’d be without them, but we’re happy they’ve found a home at Binny’s.
Billie // Spirits & Wine Buyer
“The events and promotions we were able to do in the 80′s/90′s were much different… we would give away mink coats, speed boats and even a trip to Israel.”
Do you ever wonder why there are mountains of Smirnoff, Dewers and Captain Morgan at Binny’s? Billie. Billie is why there are mountains of glorious spirits and flavored vodkas. Billie has been a part of the Binny’s team for 34 years. Billie has worked in some capacity in each of our 30 locations. She has even dressed up as Santa at a few of our holiday parties. Some of her favorite memories are from the early times at Binny’s.
“The events and promotions we were able to do in the 80′s/90′s were much different than now. I remember we would give away mink coats, speed boats and even a trip to Israel.”
It hasn’t been a walk in the park for Billie in an industry dominated by men, but she has always stayed positive. Her advice to women who want to work in the industry? “Work hard and it will all pay off. You have to earn your stripes.” You’ll typically find Billie with a dirty martini or a glass of red wine after work. Her favorite quotes are “BOGO” and “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It sure wasn’t Billie, it sure wasn’t.
Barbara // Lead Wine Buyer
“To succeed in this industry, as a male or female, you have to be determined. You have to be willing to spend every buck you have on wine.”
Barb has been a staple at Binny’s since 1981. Within the last 35 years, Barb has pretty much done a little bit of everything. Her true passion is with wine which is exactly how she worked her way up to the position she is in today.
“I really love wine. Having passion for the product is important.” A favorite memory of Barb’s was seeing the influence of wine reviewers, specifically Robert Parker. “In the early 80′s you could see his influence projecting on customers. He would recommend a wine from Chile, which was a very small selection at the time, and then we would have to order everything and anything we could from Chile because it would fly off the shelves.”
Barb credits her accomplishments, such as winning the Geja blind wine tasting seven times (yes, seven times!) to high standards, big goals, and being a realist. “To succeed in this industry, as a male or female, you have to be determined. You have to be willing to spend every buck you have on wine. Oh, and taste the really good stuff as much as you can.”
After such a career, what wine has stuck with Barb the most? “Chateau Haut Brion. It has such a distinct and memorable aroma. Anything from Chateau Haut Brion, specifically the 1982 vintage, is definitely something I’d recommend trying in one’s lifetime.”
Jeannie // General Manager
“I really enjoy being out on the sales floor and selling product. It is always satisfying when you can get a customer excited about their selections by helping them find something they haven’t had before or helping them choose the perfect gift.”
Jeannie, like the rest of these outstanding ladies, has been with Binny’s since early on. She helped open the first Binny’s Beverage Depot in Des Plaines in 1993 where she worked as a part-time cashier Monday through Friday. Over the course of her 21 years, Jeannie has worked in five Binny’s locations doing numerous jobs. One major role Jeannie has played is trainer.
“I couldn’t even guess how many employees I’ve trained. This company has a lot of talented people, and it is always exciting to see them doing well and having a successful career with Binny’s.” Retail can sometimes be a tiring and tremendous work load for some people, but not Jeannie. “I really enjoy being out on the sales floor and selling product. It is always satisfying when you can get a customer excited about their selections by helping them find something they haven’t had before or helping them choose the perfect gift.”
What keeps Jeannie going during long work weeks and buzzing holiday seasons? “I’ve made a lot of good friends here that I consider my extended family. We’ve worked together day in and day out on our good and bad days. Yup, a lot of good memories.” Her advice to those making a pathway into the industry? “Get to know the product. When I started, I sampled bourbon and Scotch, three or so a week. I researched them, and as time went on I could confidently sell most of the selection in the store. I also fell in love with Scotch.” Us too!
Amy // Director of Recruiting
“One time, a group of eight [in New Mexico] spotted my Binny’s t-shirt and ran over to tell me how much they loved our stores. It’s always fun to see and hear how much people love the company you work for.”
Amy was born for this job. During her 17 years at Binny’s, Amy has recruited and hired more than 600 associates. That says a lot, considering Binny’s has about 1000 employees. She says the daily drive and positive mindset comes from the people she hires.
“Meeting so many new and talented people is one of my favorite parts about this industry. They each have something unique to offer, even the ones that don’t end up at Binny’s.”
Amy has many favorite memories from her nearly two decades at Binny’s, including celebrity clients like Mark Wahlberg. “I always referred to him as Marky Mark. I honestly had no idea who he was, until one day a group of screaming girls approached him in the store and it all clicked.” Amy’s focus is in HR, but when she gets the chance to try the products we sell, you’ll find her sipping on a bourbon Manhattan, a glass of red wine or even some Calvados.
Amy has a talent for photography and spends her vacation time in New Mexico at The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. “One time, a group of eight, possibly intoxicated guests spotted my Binny’s t-shirt and ran over to tell me how much they loved our stores. It’s always fun to see and hear how much people love the company you work for.” Being a Gemini, Amy is always curious, so her advice to women interested in working in the beverage industry is no surprise. “Be curious, ask questions, and do your homework. Speak to other women in positions that you find interesting.”
It may seem odd that we’re happy to celebrate all-women wine and beer departments, but out of thirty Binny’s locations, they come few and far between. Here are three all-star women departments doing it big.
Meet the wine staff at Champaign:
They call themselves women of wine or WOW. The team is lead by wine manager, Katharine and consists of (in no particular order of fabulousness!) Jennifer, Nancy, Megan and Jennifer. Katharine has been in the wine and spirits business for almost 20 years and expressed it has been predominantly male but recently she has seen more and more women coming into the business.
“There is a certain attention to detail that women are good at, down to our core we want to make our friends and family happy; when we get excited about something we want to share it… with everybody! This is what sales and customer service is about. This is what wine is about.”
Be sure to stop in and say hello to the WWoW, the Wild Women of Wine!
Meet the wine staff at Des Plaines:
“It has certainly not been easy but very interesting and rewarding to watch our company and industry grow in this way, and I look forward to even more, better changes in the future.” – Barb, Wine Manager at Binny’s in Des Plaines
The wine crew at Binny’s in Des Plaines consists of Barb, the wine manager and her consultants, Amanda, Valerie, Lisa and Brian. Barb has been in the industry for several years now and accounts what it used to be like.
“I used to be “the girl” in the wine department. For years it was common for customers to look to my male counterparts for advice and it took a long time to earn trust. I am still in the minority at meetings and trade events; but every time I blink there’s another woman in the room.”
Barb also mentioned, “It has certainly not been easy but it’s very interesting and rewarding to watch our company and industry grow in this way, and I look forward to even more, better changes in the future.
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