Lionel Vasquez, Beer Specialist

Northridge, California

Lionel Vasquez

What does your job title mean?

I’m the Beer Buyer/ Salesperson for the beer at the Northridge store. I am also the Team Educator for my department. This includes training the new hires and informing them of up-to-date, company info and safety topics. And since we’re a small team, I also do the regular Specialty Department Team Member duties.

What has been your career path at Whole Foods Market?

I Joined Whole Foods Market in 2011 as a Specialty Department Team Member—providing customer service, stocking the deli meats, cheese, and wine. The department was in need of a beer specialist (at that time the Wine Specialist/Associate Team Leader was doing the beer buying), so I asked about the position and applied. I got some books and magazines about beer and started reading and learning as much as I could about beer. I also started to try a lot more styles of beer in order to familiarize myself with the vast and growing world that is “craft beer” and began attending beer tasting classes. Whole Foods Market also paid for my education in getting my Cicerone Beer Server Certification.

A Day in the Life

I get in and go over my orders that have come in that morning and work the new product out on to the floor. If there are some special releases, I’ll put them out on the social media networks. I’ll see what I need and make orders for more. I also step in and help the rest of the department with whatever’s needed.

What's the very best part of your job?

It’s hard to choose. I enjoy working with the vendors and reps from different breweries. Building relationships with them is key, especially when securing that hard-to-get beer that all the customers have been asking for. Getting to hand that bottle of hard-to-find beer to a customer who has been looking for it for weeks and making their day is probably the best part of my job. Explaining and introducing customers to new beers and styles, is great, especially if they come back and tell you that they really like what you recommended.

What do you like most about working at Whole Foods Market?

It’s a great company--always rated in the top companies to work for. They take care of their Team Members. Best job I’ve ever had. I feel like I can grow here.

What advice do you have for people considering joining the Whole Foods Market team?

Keep applying, even if you don’t get the job. There are always different job postings for different departments being put out. Apply to different stores if you have to, as long as you get in with the company.

Are you ready to follow your passion? Search for open positions in your area.