Covid-NYC: Kilolo Strobert of FreshDirect Wine & Spirits

By Kilolo Strobert | Jaclyn Warren


Kilolo Strobert
Jaclyn Warren
Kilolo Strobert of FreshDirect Wine & Spirits
Kilolo Strobert of FreshDirect Wine & Spirits


I figured that liquor stores were going to be deemed essential from the beginning. The way the world is setup, we need to be essential. Everyone has a vice, whether it’s sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, origami, everyone has something, and most people want to have a drink. This is a super stressful time even if you’re confined to your house. 


I was still recovering from surgery, but luckily, working for FreshDirect, there was enough work for me to do online, from the backend, doing online programming for our wine and liquor section. It was a different way of facing customers. I went back to the shop at the end of May. FreshDirect Wine and Spirits is in Park Slope. We operate as a neighborhood store, but have every single SKU that you can find on FreshDirect online, but we offer things tailored to the neighborhood. The shop has continued to be busy. At the beginning, people were coming in and buying in bulk, just like they were doing with everything else, grabbing whatever they could, not knowing how long lockdown would go on for and what that really meant. Everyone has kind of run through their stash, so we have started to hit a more consistent pace. It’s a different flow of things, we just have to take it day by day. 


We shortened our hours at the beginning and went completely contactless and cashless, having people call in their orders for pickup. Now we leave the door open and serve at the door. People not being allowed inside the premises has made people trust us in helping them get what they want. We make sure we ask people the right amount of questions, in a super clear way, in an expedited manner--it’s 20 questions that you have to get down to five. We also have the ability to look up sales with credit card numbers, which helps a lot. In retail, we are not typically thought of as servers or sommeliers, but that’s what we are, even if the doors were open, we serve people all day.  We are provided gloves, masks, and thermometers to test temperatures every day. We’re a small staff and we’re pretty much all there at the same time. We feel pretty safe as far as contact with each other goes. 


The virtual wine class I hold, @getcomfywithwine, had to be put on pause because of my surgery. Then this happened, so it's further delayed. There are so many things happening in the world! I’m trying to focus and find the best use of my voice right now. I want to be as impactful as I can be because of all of the experience I have. I don’t want to not hit the right points, and you're never going to hit everything. I want to make sure everything I’m saying is real and helpful. It’s a lot. 

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