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Marrickville’s most Unpretentious Gin Hall and how they use Kounta in their Day-to-Day

We caught up with Poor Toms’ Brand Ambassador, Sean McGuire, who filled us in on how the brand got started, why people love Poor Toms, and how they use Kounta in their day-to-day operations.

By Chloe Chaplin

Breweries that double as pubs, distilleries that turn into venues, and artisanal everything no longer get brownie points for being unique and super niche in the food and beverage space. They’re literally everywhere these days. Nevertheless, it sure gives us joy to witness the artisan food movement enter into the mainstream, but how do indie speciality brands stand out amongst all the foodies and beverage aficionados out there?

The guys over at Poor Toms Gin Hall in Marrickville have been distilling their own spirits locally since 2015. Like many of their hospo neighbours, their converted warehouse space turns from a distillery into a venue on weekends. What really sets them apart, however, is the fact that they’ve remained such a small operation even in the face of mass popularity.

There are still only seven guys running the show, including the two founders, which makes everything feel very personal, accessible, and unpretentious. They make their decisions together and the guys take a lot of pride in their product which, if we do say, is some seriously fine gin.

We caught up with Poor Toms’ Brand Ambassador, Sean McGuire, who filled us in on how the brand got started, why people love Poor Toms, and how they use Kounta in their day-to-day operations.

You’re the brand ambassador and the venue manager, right?

Yeah, I wear a few hats. We only have seven employees in the company, so everyone does a little bit of everything. We have a few people working in production, a few people working between production and the bar, and then myself who does a little bit of everything. I run the venue, I do some ambassador type stuff, and I do some work with the distillery as well.

Is that seven people in addition to Griffin and Jesse, or seven altogether?

Seven including Griffin and Jesse.

So, tell me a little bit more about your responsibilities – a day in the life of you?

The bar was kind of an idea conceived by Jesse and Griffin and at the time, I was running a venue in Melbourne. I was doing a bit of random extra stuff on the side and they liked the way I ran a venue so when they were looking more seriously at opening a bar, they asked me if I would be willing to make the move. These days, what my week looks like is that Wednesday and Thursday consist of admin and the sort of boring stuff for the bar. I also do some research and development of new products for the distillery. That’s going to be a bit more of a focus for us now, but we’re kind of still getting through the chaos of last year. And then Friday and Saturday are pretty much just opening the doors to the public and trying to make sure the venue runs smoothly.

It sounds like a lot.

It is, but I kind of like having a lot on my plate – it’s good.

They started Poor Toms on a crowdfunding campaign, right?

Basically, the story of how Poor Toms started is that the founders were both in their early twenties and a little dissatisfied with their jobs and careers. Jesse was working for a bank and Griffin was a struggling actor. They’d both been big gin fans for a while and they decided they wanted to get into the gin business. So, they started out just messing around on their own stills and trying to develop their own product and eventually they put their money together and bought a still. They got a space here in Marrickville and when everything was in place, they did a crowdfunding campaign to basically get off the ground.

As a brand, and in terms of your role with the brand, what are you most proud of?

I’m really proud of the product. The liquid that ends up in a bottle is always a labour of love and you know if we’re not 100% happy with it, it’s not going to end up on the shelf. Also, I really enjoy our image and how we’re not taking ourselves too seriously while still standing behind it.

What makes Poor Toms different?

I guess what makes us different is that, again, we are still a very small company and everyone has a voice. We all contribute to how things are done in terms of the way products are being developed.

We make decisions together and, again, I think you know we have quite a laid-back-not-taking-ourselves-so-seriously kind of attitude towards what we do, egos get left at the door.

Can you explain how the team uses Kounta in your day to day operations?

So, during service times, we pretty much just use Kounta as a POS system. It’s quite intuitive and very easy to use. Other than that, I use it for ordering and to track my stock as well.

What about Kounta makes you want to keep using us?

it’s smart & simple, and the price is really competitive. I was kind of surprised how much it is capable of for the price.

Our product range is pretty small and our service is quite simple, so I don’t need a lot of the add-ons. But I do use Tables to keep service smooth.

Because we have such a limited product, we’re not like other venues. I buy stock from the distillery so I don’t have a huge list of supplies that I need. However, Purchase does make things simpler, despite the fact that I don’t have a huge list of suppliers.

How would you describe Kounta, in general, to a friend?

One thing I’ll say about it is that it’s really intuitive. A lot of people find it to be a flexible product. I just find that it’s really simple to use.

If you were to quantify things like time and cost savings, how much do you think you save by having such an intuitive system?

I don’t know how well I can speak to that. If I was running a bigger venue, then yeah, it would be more quantifiable. For our needs, it’s just a really simple and intuitive system.

How do you use Insights week to week?

I use them mostly to track sales and growth, and for comparing things like this year to last year when we’d only been open for a few months. It’s nice to be able to see, for example, trends for your busy periods and light periods, and to see what you were doing before and what to expect.

I know that Poor Tom is a King Lear character, but why did they choose that name in the first place?

Yeah, so it’s King Lear who’s a bit of a drunk philosopher. Just by chance, both of the founders’ full names are Thomas, so they pretty much cleared out their bank accounts to buy the still so they, themselves, were ‘Poor Toms’.

What’s something that everybody loves about you guys that sets you apart and keeps people coming back?

We work in a good space with a brand that people can relate to. Our pricing is very accessible and we have a cool friendly staff. Those are the main things that keep our customers coming back.