Tuesday, June 30, 2009
SIX MONTHS DOWN, MANY MORE TO GO
Half the year has gone by as of the end of business today. I am trying to collect my thoughts, get together wines for advertising, prep the wine dept. for Shannon’s trip to Bordeaux this week, and otherwise catch up on the little things that slip through the cracks.
I haven’t discussed much about the added sales tax our brilliant KY legislature added back in April. For the most part, people have dealt with it the best way they can, and we’ve adjusted our buying in order to offset the damage they (the KY legislature) have done. The upside is that we have maintained our price advantage over Ohio for now. The downside is that our warehouse is now busting apart at the seams. Our work has multiplied in trying to balance efficient inventory maintenance with competitive pricing – I would really like to get those bureaucrats to come down and help me move a couple pallets of wine every now and again. They could probably use a bit of “real people” work.
A post over at Fermentation by Tom Wark discusses the state of Wine Blogging after 5 years. A fairly new frontier in wine promotions and communications, Tom points out that, despite calls to the contrary, there is no real threat to traditional print media, and there is no clear leader in the wine blogging community. I agree with him on a lot of what he states, yet I feel that there are some bloggers out there who really do have something to say – despite the fact that there are literally thousands of wine bloggers out there (myself included). Joe Roberts from 1WineDude, Jeff Lefevre from GoodGrape, Megan at Sonadora, and the aforementioned Tom from Fermentation, along with the founding wine blogs of Vinography and Dr. Vino, and Wine Enthusiast’s Steve Heimoff are clearly the leaders to a great many of us in the blogosphere, though there is a veritable kaleidoscope of voices in the world of wine blogging that should be given a chance. While there is no real empirical data on readership of blogs (is it an incestuous readership or are the neophytes paying attention too?), the possibilities for wine blogging are still undetermined. It is my belief that, if implemented well, the wine blog can be a useful tool in connecting with wine fans, not just locally, but globally. Will we make money blogging about wine? Who knows. I do know that our little blog, while primarily focused on a local audience, still hopes to offer something to readers from wherever in this big world, and while we are relatively young, we hope to improve continually, and raise ourselves to the levels of the previously mentioned group of bloggers.
The quest for recession busting wines is endless, thanks to the recovery/no recovery going on in today’s economy. The wine business isn’t entirely recession-proof, and nowhere is that more evident than the “luxury brand” category. The Opus One customer is now looking for more affordable alternatives, and overall, most wine consumers we see are spending less per bottle than they used to, and with good reason. Yet despite this trend, there are wineries that have in the past, commanded ridiculously high prices, and show no signs of changing the ongoing price increases now. Particularly with Napa Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Piedmont wines, the rationale for taking brands up in price when the times are already proving difficult to sell them at current retail prices, just baffles me. After attending the Penfolds seminar two weeks ago, learning that Grange was up to the $400-$450 range meant that only the super-elite could afford this one now. Maybe that is what these guys are going for – the super-elite. Ultimately though, you are making 1000 bottles of 50 people? Just numbers off the top of my head, but you get the point – is there really ANY point to that at all?
And change is coming for our stores – a name change that is. We’ve narrowed it down to a couple, and we will be unveiling the new name soon. With that, means changing the Web site name, our Facebook page, our staff phone numbers and email addresses, and a whole laundry list of stuff. But change is good, as I have often said, and our new name will give us a better identity and a better understanding for our customers of what it is we do around here. Until them, Liquor Direct it is. And Liquor Direct is where I am.