When you’re looking for a new Retail General Manager, you’re looking for someone who’s worldly enough to be able to lead the Tasting Room with a boatload of experience in retail and who knows a thing-or-two about a seasonal crowd looking to have a good time.
Also, it helps if that person is naturally fun. After all, it’s their responsibility to make the Tasting Room a happenin’ place and keep the Brewtique running flawlessly.
And it’s our Core Value #7. We are literally mandated to have fun.
Does that person exist? Searching for them is like trolling the Point for Cape May Diamonds — they’re out there, but they’re getting more difficult to find with each passing year.
Enter Kaitlyn Smith.
A native of North Wildwood, after high school at Wildwood Catholic, she attended Drexel University in Philadelphia as a Fashion Design and Merchandising major “with a History minor. Just in case.”
She comes to us after having gained a wealth of experience working for Morey’s Piers in Wildwood. With them for six years, she’d basically done just about everything while she was there.
“My official title was ‘Retail Manager’,” she says, “but at one point, I was also in charge of their graphics department, so I did signs and menus and things like that. At another point, I was a manager in the water park, so I trained lifeguards — all the while still being the Retail Manager. And then I was on the International Recruiting Team, so in the wintertime for a month, I’d disappear and go overseas and hire international students.”
Oh. That’s all?
Kaitlyn ran three stores for Morey’s: the flagship Morey’s Store, the Kong surf shop, and the Art Box, a gallery with a small boutique. She was intimately involved in designing the merchandise, organizing the stores, and training the staff.
“When I started, retail was relatively new for Morey’s,” she says. “I think they had one store selling, like, a t-shirt and two mugs, and when I left, they had over 9,000 products.”
It’s safe to say that Kaitlyn helped that place grow a bit, even though merchandising on the Wildwood boardwalk is not without some pretty stringent competition.
“It was a fun challenge,” she says.
However, the part of the job Kaitlyn really loved was traveling with the International Recruiting Team. Heading overseas was right up her alley — she loves to travel and does so whenever she gets the chance. Morey’s sent her to Russia, Turkey, Bulgaria, China, and Ukraine for two weeks at a time, sometimes going on as many as three trips over a few months.
“I was like, passport: ready!” she says, laughing. “Wherever you want to send me, I will go.”
It’s kind of odd that she and John could bond over watching the Ukrainian Revolution from their hotel rooms, both having been in the country at the same time.
“I was reading that, and I was like, ‘Me too!’” she says, laughing.
“We were under express instructions: leave the hotel at your own risk,” she says. “But the company we were with were super cool. They were like, ‘Do you just want to walk down and see it?’ We were like, ‘YEAH!’”
The country was certainly in turmoil at the time, but, like John said, it was mainly contained to one public square and the few blocks surrounding it. However, walking down the street and seeing militants with armed rifles and trash cans ablaze is enough to stay with you for awhile.
“So, yeah, that was a pretty cool experience,” she says, in the understatement of the day.
Nonetheless, Kaitlyn is always down for a new adventure. Even beyond her duties traveling for Morey’s, she loves to travel.
“I’ve blown all of my savings my entire life on travel and visiting new places,” she says. “I have a group of friends and we basically go on yearly adventures, just being tourists, walking around with huge, dorky cameras, obviously American. I just went on a big trip in April to London and Paris.”
She’s been to “all of the big ones in Europe” — Amsterdam, London, France, Germany, Prague. But she points to Spain as her favorite.
“They just have this really great outlook on life,” she says. “They don’t take anything too seriously, and they take the time to enjoy life. They take a long time to eat, they take naps. I’ve been there a few times, and the people are just so cool and there’s so much history. It’s a lot of fun.”
While Kaitlyn grew up a short drive from Cape May, she actually didn’t make it down here much as a kid. However, once she moved home from college, she and her friends began coming down here as much as possible.
“It just has such personality,” she says. “You have the hipsters, you have the old-school folks, you have the Victorian houses, and yet you have the modern bars. It’s overflowing with personality.”
After six years at Morey’s, Kaitlyn was looking for a new challenge.
“I really enjoyed my last job, and I really enjoyed doing it every day,” she says, “but I really worried that I was getting stale. I felt that the vibe here is really cool and everyone here is so passionate about what they do. It felt like a really cool environment to jump into. So I thought, ‘What a cool challenge!’”
Kaitlyn loves beer, so her education here will be quick and complete. Nonetheless, she’s not daunted by the challenge. She’s looking to grow with the company.
“I grew a lot with Morey’s, and I’m hoping that I get to grow here, as well,” she says, looking to hone the skills she’s already developed at her previous job.
“The Tasting Room’s already popping,” she says, “so the challenge is, ‘How do you keep it popping?’”
She really wants to explore her options in getting people here — primarily getting people here who don’t already like beer, or maybe don’t understand it as well as they should. Luckily, she’s got lots of ideas.
“I’ve only been here a week, and I’m already thinking, ‘Ooh, I wonder if they thought to do this? And that? And maybe we’ll do this! You guys are doing such a great job already. It’s not like I’m coming in, having to completely reinvent the wheel. It’s like, how do I take your wheel that’s already rolling and Make it Better?”
(Did she realize she was quoting Core Value #6? Probably not.)
And Kaitlyn is really enjoying it here, so far. One of the things she really likes is the importance our owners place on the work/life balance.
“At Morey’s, you have three months to make all your money, so for three months, I said to all of my friends, ‘Goodbye! I’ll see you in November!’ and I worked around-the-clock all the time. It’s weird to go home and think, ‘Hmm. I can go out to dinner, or I can go to the movies, or I can hang out at the Tasting Room!’ It’s a weird feeling, but it’s a good feeling.”
For Kaitlyn, one thing she really loves about the job is access to The Bog.
“I was on the fanwagon, anxiously awaiting the moment until The Bog came back. I’ve always been like, ’Well, WHY DON’T YOU HAVE IT ALL THE TIME?!?’”
Well, that’s an idea, Kaitlyn. Don’t expect it to come to fruition, though.
Nonetheless, we’re happy to have Kaitlyn aboard. She’s a great person with a ton of ideas who already has a handle on what we should be doing in the Tasting Room and Brewtique. She’ll do just fine.
Stop by and say hi!