Prospect Party Center owner shares his family business values and secret to success
By Ellie Kemper
Photos by Weasie Gaines Photography
Owner of Prospect Party Center, Jamie Masticola, is a local retailer who runs his business with the values his late father instilled in him, making his spirits store stand out as a welcoming family business. For that reason, Prospect Party Center has maintained its reputation as a reliable and high-quality spirits store since the 1970s when Masticola’s father first started the business. Masticola shares his story and what has made his business such a success.
How long have you owned Prospect Party Center and how did you get started in this industry?
This is a family business that my father started in 1972 when he opened Skyway Beverage Shop on Hikes Lane. That store is still open and still in our family. He then purchased Fern Creek Liquors in the mid-1970s. We purchased Prospect Wine and Spirits in 1992 and expanded to Prospect Party Center at the end of October 2001. So we have been in continuous operation since 1972. In January of 2002, my father, who at the time was 65 years old, passed away. That’s how I was thrust into a leadership role in the company.
You have several locations around Louisville. When did you decide to expand, and what made your additional locations a good investment?
It was just over three years ago when we expanded and I opened Middletown Party Center on Shelbyville Road, which is our fourth location. Middletown is a densely populated part of Louisville. There are a lot of rooftop bars there, the economics looked good. It was a good location and we were able to negotiate a good lease on good terms. I think not just in this business, but in any business, one has to be willing to take risks, grow, expand, evolve and change with the market.
What makes your store different from other liquor stores?
We are family-owned and independent. I am in my store seven days a week. There are other store owners who work very hard and are in their stores seven days a week, but I provide a level of service and consultation that you just cannot find in a grocery chain or a big-box national store. There is a passion that I have for this industry, an interest. I’ve been working in this store for a long time and I know many of the clients and guests in the store. I work hard to provide a really high level of customer service.
How has your business adapted with COVID-19?
We were developing an online presence and a delivery service just a few weeks before the pandemic hit. Fortunately, we had developed that, and once the pandemic hit, the delivery and curbside business really took off. Every month, we also have a service that comes into our stores with a UV light to sterilize all of the high-touch points in the store: the sales counters, the shields at the registers, credit card machines, keyboards, monitors, bathrooms and doors. Then they spray a non-toxic substance that kills viral bacteria and it is effective for 60 days. They come back every four weeks to do this. We take this very seriously; the health and the safety of our team members as well as the customers in our stores. Even though it is an additional expense, we find it is necessary and the right thing to do.
How have sales been affected during this unprecedented time?
I would say that it was a real salutary benefit of the current pandemic that our sales grew close to 30%. Business just took off. When the state deemed package-liquor retail stores essential, that helped us stay open. The limiting of on-premise consumption shifted a lot of the consumption to consumers entertaining or staying at home rather than going out, so that really helped our business. I do feel really badly for businesses and any individuals that are experiencing extreme hardship during this time. Many people are in a difficult spot, with suffering and illness.
What is your most popular product right now?
One of our top sellers, if not our top seller hands down, is Old Forester. It represents a fantastic value and a great product.
What is your secret to success?
There is no secret! I grew up in this business with my father. I would come into the store on Sundays at Skyway Beverage and help clean and stock candy when I was probably 7, 8, and 9-years-old. When I turned 20-years-old, I was old enough to work in the store. On holidays and summer breaks from college, I worked in the store with my father. After I graduated from college, I worked with him in a full-time capacity and learned a lot under his tutelage. He instilled a good work ethic and had a good business sense. He stressed the importance of customer service and being willing to adapt and try to identify trends in the industry to stay relevant. He was always working.
How has the growth of the bourbon industry in Kentucky been helpful to your business?
Bourbon is the single fastest-growing department in our business. The national interest in bourbon, and having our stores in the epicenter of the bourbon industry, has been a great blessing. Bourbon tourism has been extremely complementary to our business as well. Bourbon is king right now; it is extremely popular. We have long-established relationships with wholesalers, suppliers and distilleries, so we are able to do individual barrel selections and have access to a lot of the coveted and hard-to-find bourbons that are available on a very limited basis.
What do you envision for the future of Prospect Party Center?
I hope to continue to grow and expand the business and I hope that the excitement and interest in bourbon continues. It has been a real honor and privilege to be a part of it.
Prospect Party Center
Prospect, KY 40059