Kristen brought a full glass of knowledge with her when she joined our Beverage team, having worked at several wineries and breweries. As an Assistant Beverage Manager at our Cedar Mill Market, she now stocks many of their products.
“It’s kind of come full circle now, and I get to back and support them in a different way,” she says.
Supporting local businesses, especially smaller breweries struggling during the current health crisis, is important to her and a big part of the reason she enjoys working at Market of Choice, which has been a long-time supporter of local, independent craft brewers and wine makers.
Kristen also enjoys helping customers to discover what’s new, and so she spends a lot of time keeping up on current trends. “The more research I do, the more things I find and discover that I’d like to share with my customers.”
What are customers thirsty for? One customer stopped by to see if he could find a particular beer he’d enjoyed on a plane. He didn’t know what it was called, but Kristen was able to track it down and to put in a special order. Now the store keeps it in stock.
Another customer wanted help with putting together a basket of beverages made in Oregon for a homesick niece. “I really enjoyed that,” Kristen says.
Of course, the best research into beer and wine trends involves tasting it, and that’s a burden Kristen says she’s glad to bear. She and some of her co-workers get together regularly for a “six-pack swap” to try new beers and compare notes.
“I am always down to try a new beer,” she says. “Hardly ever do I find ones that I don’t enjoy, or at least can appreciate ̶ especially ones that are made locally with a lot of heart.”
An interest in beverages is something Kristen shares with her family. They go wine tasting and get together to take turns cooking Sunday dinners to enjoy with new drinks or old favorites. When she was growing up, her father often enjoyed a beer with dinner or finding just the right wine for a special occasion. She considers him a role model.
“The love of beer and a really strong work ethic definitely came from my dad,” she says.
In addition to her time in the industry, Kristen earned a geology degree from the University of Oregon. She says she finds it interesting how soils and temperatures influence the taste of beverages and feels fortunate to live in the Willamette Valley, an ideal place for growing the ingredients for quality beer and wine. Part of her ongoing research also involves Market of Choice tours of local wineries and breweries.
“Growing up in the area and watching the beer industry just boom and take over has been really cool, so there’s always something new to try and somewhere new to go,” she says.
Now, Kristen says, her favorite day at work is delivery day when all the new orders arrive. She enjoys organizing it all and appreciates that Market of Choice is open to bringing in new products and providing her and her teammates a sense of ownership of their work. Each Beer & Wine Shop is unique and features a curated selection that’s based on customers’ interests.
“You get a lot of freedom to kind of do your own spin on it,” she says.