Notes From All Over

The Twilight of Brands?

A mere twelve months ago, Lululemon defined the term 'hot brand'. All across America, women-and increasingly men, too-got their sweat on in trendy, pricey Lululemon athletic wear.
And then? As a recent New Yorker article relates, the pricey clothes started pilling, bleeding dyes, and-worst of all-a new line of yoga pants essentially became transparent when the wearer bent over. Suburbia was not ready for this. The company's founder complicated matters by suggesting that some women were just too fat to wear the $75 yoga pants. Ooops. Buh-bye, hot brand.

Nuts and Bolts

I love my local hardware store. I grew up in the rural Midwest, and the hardware store was where you went to solve otherwise unsolvable problems. Now I'm a Massachusetts resident, but I still bring my 'issues' to the hardware guy. With apologies to anyone who works at Home Depot, I can never find anyone there. And when I do, half the time they don't know what I'm talking about.

Transitions- Enjoy the Bitter and the Sweet

A few days ago, I took the dogs out for an early AM walk, and happened to see friends taking off to bring their daughter to college.

Wow. Sure, I know she just graduated from high school. But in my mind, she is still about 11. I guess I should make some adjustments.

And that's what the transition from summer to fall is all about: adjustments. Kids going back to school, heading off to college, maybe starting their first job after graduation....Families returning from vacation homes, getting back into the swing of things. Lots of changes, and change is always bittersweet.

Craft Whiskey Steals Market Share From Kentucky, Tennessee.

The actual headline, in Shanken News Daily, a beverage alcohol industry email news service, was 'Craft Whiskies Start to Nibble Away at Kentucky and Tennessee's Dominance.'

So....the American whisky epicenter is still firmly located in those 2 southern states, where 8 giant distillers produce more than 90% of the whisky consumed in the US. But their hold on our highball glasses is slipping....a little....finally.

Bread (and Beer and Vodka) of Life

More and more often, we are seeing customers requesting gluten-free options. Some are gluten-sensitive, others have full-blown celiac disease, and yet others have merely chosen a gluten-free lifestyle. Whatever the reason for the change, it requires some different choices when it comes to beverage shopping.

Other than wine (an obvious choice...grapes don't contain any wheat proteins) we did not initially have that many choices for the gluten-free customer. But we're listening! And we've found some great alternative beverages AND some useful info.

What's The Point of a Discount?

One of the suppliers we see at Pour Richard's (They'll be nameless-you'll see why) has the most peculiar pricing policy. There's the 'frontline', which almost nobody pays. Then there are assorted 'discounts', depending on the quantity purchased, but if you ask, sometimes you can get that price on less quantity. There are free goods deals: 1 free case on a 5 case purchase, etc. Lastly, there is the end-of-fiscal price: crazy stuff like 6 free bottles on 6 purchased bottles.

Wine Cellars (What's The Point?)

Maybe your house has a palatial wine cellar, with high-end racks and a state of
the art temp and humidity control system? Or maybe it doesn't, and your setup looks
more like mine: some racks in a cool corner of the basement. Whatever. Even if it
looks like the 'closet cellar' pictured above, it's still a cellar. And a cellar
is a GOOD THING.
Why? Why NOT? For the convenience of not having to run out to the store every time
you're having guests. To know, when you're stuck in traffic, that you can go straight

Does A Bear Drink Vodka in the Woods?
bear drinking

Why do you drink what you drink? Well, there's always quality, which we try to keep first and foremost. But we also have a firm belief in the 'story' behind a product. So we carry Hook & Ladder wines because we love the idea of Cecil DeLoach still crafting excellent Russian River Valley creations (even if someone else owns his name). And we love Tito's Vodka because it's an American-made-in Texas!-small-batch spirit. And we love the weird and nearly undecipherable stories behind the names of our Maine Beer Co brews.

What's in a Name? (And does it still taste good if you've never heard of it?)
Bunches of Grapes

We sell some fairly unusual wines. Among our current favorites are a red blend from Portugal, a nice fizzy Lambrusco, Italian Pecorino and Vermentino, crisp Ugni Blanc from France, and a delicious Chenin Blanc blend from South Africa. I'd give pretty good odds that most wine drinkers aren't familiar with all of those. And yet.....our customers buy these wines-and other 'unknowns'- a LOT. Why?

Friendly Values
General Store Grocer

I grew up in and around a small town (very small, ~400 people). It didn't have a supermarket, per se, just a little store called the Super Value. Run by a local family, the Super Value had an old-fashioned butcher and a decent selection of groceries, all at pretty good prices. What made the store special-at least in my memories-was the friendly helpful attitude of everyone there. They knew your name, knew what you wanted, and generally treated all the customers as though they were genuinely glad you were there. In retrospect, I think they should have called the store Friendly Value.

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