As the couple behind Hove grocery store and wine shop, Shoreline Stores, prepare to open a café next door, they talk to Drinks Retailing about hybrid potential, wine prices and what hospitality can bring to retail
Louise and Dariush Tamadon-Nejad opened Shoreline in August 2022, seven years after a California road trip gave them some ideas about the kind of space they wanted to create.
The shop, on the coast road heading out of Hove towards Shoreham-by-Sea, features an array of grocery delights as well as wines from companies such as Graft, Liberty and Les Caves de Pyrene, alongside local craft beers and a handful of alcohol-free options.
The pair used their contacts from working in London restaurants, including the likes of Hix and Caravan, to curate their wine selection – and they also got a bit of help from other retailers.
“We worked with Les Caves in London,” says Dariush. “They focus more on the sustainable, low intervention, biodynamic, natural range – and I know you can get really good value for money with a lot of their wines.”
Meanwhile, a chance meeting led to other listings.
“A regular customer brought a friend in,” explains Louise, “and she asked us some questions about the wine. It turned out she was from Parlourmentary in Bournemouth, and she put us on to Graft. We then went down to Bournemouth to look at her place – it’s nice to meet people who are in the same position as you and she was really supportive.”
Louise says getting the price points right for the wines involved asking customers what they were willing to spend on a bottle of wine.
“It has been trial and error,” she says, with the sweet spot being around £11-16.
“Some wines have taken a while to sell,” adds Dariush, “but the good thing about wine is that it has to be sitting around for quite sometime before it spoils. Or ends up at our house…”
He says the margin on wine is “probably around 35%”, which he explains is very different to his experience in restaurants.
“35% on some wines works but 35% on other wines that I really want to sell – they’re just not going to go. So, we’ll take a £1-2 hit just to get people to buy it and enjoy it and come back for a different wine and trust us.”
There’s an emphasis on local produce in the shop and Louise says they didn’t have that many Sussex wines to start with “because we weren’t sure of our price point – they are usually more expensive”.
“But we did have a wine from Devon, called Shoreline from Lyme Bay. And then we started to stock Court Garden from nearby Ditchling, which has been popular.”
The pair have also met local producers at a recent tasting, including Titch Hill and other English listings include Sov’ran – an urban winery based in Worthing.
At the moment, the most popular choices come from a bit further afield: both Gran Cerdo from Spain and Lo Petit Fantet d’Hippolyte from Languedoc get a mention.
Beer-wise, the shop carries the likes of Brighton’s Unbarred as well as Hand Brew Co with its famous David Shigrey collaboration, Toad Licker.
HOSPITALITY TO RETAIL
So, what are the main learnings the pair have brought with them from the restaurant world?
“The hospitality element,” says Louise. “You can walk into a shop and most of the time people don’t look up. But we wanted it to be an experience, because that is what we used to create in restaurants. That’s where hospitality and retail marry up – you are still selling something when you work in hospitality.”
But it hasn’t all been easy, and Louise says the hardest part about retail is “literally understanding how to run a shop”.
“We’re still working out how you order, when you order, what people are going to buy,” she says.
Louise also highlights high energy bills and the need to get the café open as soon as possible.
From very early on, Shoreline’s social media posts have flagged collaborations with various food trucks, who set up right outside the shop.
The Tamadon-Nejads have taken this a step further, with a Christmas market, championing local makers, and a forthcoming spice fest, in collaboration with Bloody Mary mix maker and distiller Bloody Bens.
Louise says collaborating with other businesses brings their audience to your business – as well as creating a hub of activity in the neighbourhood that will attract new customers.
At the moment the café, which should be open in August, doesn’t have an alcohol licence. But it’s something the pair are looking into, as further collaborations may spark supper clubs, tastings and a whole new outlet for Tamadon-Nejad’s love of hospitality.