We spoke with the brains behind our bevvies about what it takes to buy a province's worth of booze.
I Want Your Job finds Torontonians who make a living doing exactly what they love to do, in any field, and for any salary, and asks them how they did it.
Name: Stacee Roth
Job: LCBO Category Manager
If you’ve ever had a gin and tonic or vodka-whatever anywhere in Ontario, Stacee Roth has had a hand in your beverage. Well, not literally. But, as the LCBO’s category manager for White Spirits, RTD and Accessories (translation: buyer of all LCBO rums, gins, coolers, and premixed cocktails), she may as well have. How does a mere mortal go from day-to-day existence to selecting an entire province’s worth of libations? We spoke with Roth to find out.
Torontoist: You’re essentially responsible for choosing what we drink in this province. How do you make those decisions?
Roth: Well, ultimately, I’m responsible for achieving the the sales [targets] for my category. At the beginning of the year we forecast and budget for that in January. We set out business plans early on to figure out what we want to buy in the following year. So, we look at our category performance over the past several months, and we also look at trends in the market—what’s trending really well, what opportunities we have and gaps in the market—and we try to put forth a purchase plan for bringing in new, unique brands into the market.
How did you find yourself in this job?
My background is actually in the fashion business. I went to Ryerson’s fashion merchandising program. When I left school I had an internship at Dylex, which used to be the Fairweather and Braemar chain, and I worked my way up as a buyer’s assistant to assistant buyer to associate buyer to buyer. After Dylex, I transferred over to a couple of different companies. Previous to LCBO, I purchased the fashions for the Shopping Channel. So, I leveraged those skills in buying and merchandising and translated those into the beverage and alcohol business.
What would you say are the unique challenges of the booze-buying biz?
Well, it’s definitely a dynamic position. Each day is extremely different. There are no two days that I can say are exactly the same. But that’s also a great thing about the position, you know, we’re always doing something different. But there are always challenges, throughout the day and weeks, in terms of making sure we have the product mix in place that we want, and that we’re merchandising things the way we want them to be, and that we have the right promotional programming in place. And inventory’s a big piece. Because we purchase from all over the world, it’s important to make sure that we have enough product to satisfy the Ontario consumer.
Do you get to do a lot of travel for the position?
Yes. There is certainly some travel involved. As an example, I’ll be travelling to the UK in May to visit some of the gin distilleries in London. All of these distilleries are really steeped in history and heritage, and really strong quality of craftsmanship. You can’t explain until you’ve actually been to one of these distilleries, but you really feel the passion and pride behind some of these liquids. You know, they’ve been produced, in some cases, for hundreds of years. You can definitely feel that when you visit the distillery sites.
I’ll also be attending the London wine and spirits trade show. That trip will really allow me to get a sense of some of the market trends and new products that are coming out into the market.
Would you say that’s maybe your favourite part of the job?
Probably, my favourite thing—particularly because my background is in the fashion business—is just the churn of new products and working with our suppliers, putting together innovations for the Ontario consumer. Just being ahead of the trends, so knowing what’s trending in other markets and how that translates to Canadian markets, and being the first to market with new, innovative brands. It’s just great to say that, you know, I’m bringing products that people are looking for in Ontario. That’s probably the best part.