TANKED: The new 17-foot fish tank draws big crowds to Latham Farms

Store layout and design play an important role in attracting consumers in the retail industry, but what is it exactly that reels in customers and keeps them coming back for more? We spoke with Craig Allen of All Star Wine & Spirits in Kimco’s Latham Farms shopping center near Albany, NY, whose personal passion turned out to be just the sales bait he needed.

At All Star Wine & Spirits, Allen’s aquariums have helped shape the atmosphere of the store for more than a decade by creating a unique attraction that captivates shoppers of all interests. “It all just comes with a look, something different so you don’t have to pack your store with every nook and cranny trying to sell people something,” he says. “The fish tanks are the biggest things that I have ever seen from a marketing standpoint in my 15 years of business.”

REALITY TV: Owner Craig Allen gives his pitch to Tanked cameras

Allen has taken his customer experience to the next level by participating on Animal Planet’s hit show “Tanked.” For the episode which aired on March 21, Allen worked with producers to design and install a 17-foot, wine bottle-shaped fish tank, complete with tropical fish and an operational wine tap, as the store’s new centerpiece. Listen to the podcast to hear about Allen’s reality show experience with “Tanked,” and how his design concept helped drive unprecedented traffic to his New York store. You can also jump ahead to key talking points by referencing the index below, or click over to the full transcript.

ORIGINAL DESIGN: Craig got his feet wet with the in-store koi pond

  • 1:39 An overview of All Star Wine & Spirits
  • 4:10 Why wine and spirits were Allen’s calling
  • 7:10 How fish tanks became a major store draw
  • 9:52 How “Tanked” entered the picture
  • 13:18 About the famous All Star Wine & Spirits fish tank
  • 15:00 The process of creating and designing the new tank
  • 15:49 How the public reacted on the day of the reveal
  • 17:28 Allen’s thoughts on the reality show experience, and how it changed his business perspective


This has been an installment of StoreFront, an interview series with leaders of successful retail businesses. For more interviews, visit the StoreFront page. To learn how you can be featured, email us. We’d love to hear from you.