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Kentucky Trailblazer: Jonathan Blue


Jonathan Blue jumped on technology early, and he’s seen that move pay off exponentially as Covid-19 has drastically impacted customer purchasing habits. Blue is chairman and managing director of Blue Equity LLC, which owns 20 retail stores in Kentucky. Two years ago, shortly after the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation allowing liquor stores to deliver alcoholic beverages to customers, Blue Equity launched delivery apps for its 15 Liquor Barn locations and two Party Mart stores. The company’s three DEP’s Fine Wine & Spirits stores—purchased this past May—also now have similar apps.

“With our apps, within an hour, you have that product at your doorstep without ever speaking to a person,” Blue says. “We were the first in the state of Kentucky to offer delivery, and it’s been massively successful. Then with the pandemic, usage increased exponentially. It’s been a very, very big success story.”

The apps allow the stores to differentiate themselves from the competition, but the technology only tells part of the story. Under normal circumstances, the stores are highly experiential. For the company’s higher-profile “destination stores” in particular, “people still want the experience of browsing through a store, spending time and learning about SKUs,” Blue says. “And the tastings and events are still very valuable. We’re looking forward to those coming back, but in the meantime, delivery has been a great solution.”

For his forethought in adopting technology, his vast selection of alcoholic beverages, and his ability to create a highly engaging customer experience, Blue has been selected as a 2020 Market Watch Leader.

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