This is the one several recurring posts from David Lazarus about the intricacies of opening and running a wine shop. David's posts will appear on Wednesdays.
In my last post, I stopped right as we had applied for our license and had started contacting wine distributors.
The fun was really beginning. We were tasting wine in preparation for stocking the store. I had already ordered our wine racks and since they had been delayed by several weeks, I figured we would be delayed in getting things going. Well, we got the liquor license in the mail just a couple of weeks after the final hoop had been jumped, surprise!
The racks are still not here we have just begun sampling wine. The holiday season is still several months away, so no sweat. We also needed to come up with a logo, cards and a sign. We had decided on a name: the building sits right across the street from Mt Washington’s iconic art deco water tower, so of course we should call our store Water Tower Fine Wines. We contacted a graphic designer, who proposed several concepts and we gave our input. It took three more visits and three weeks until they finally produced the drawing that I had asked for after the first meeting. We had our logo and business card design.
The fun part was actually anything but … I am not saying that sampling all of those wines was not fun, in fact, that part was great. The hard part was the the decisions I had to make. After all, I couldn't buy every wine I liked! The obvious reason, money, was a factor, but space was also a major piece of the puzzle. I had planned to open with 400-500 wines, and I really tried to stay within that number, but there were just too many good wines out there and some of the distributors got to me after I had already filled the bulk of my slots. I could not help myself, I had to buy more. The remaining distributors got fewer orders and yes there are wines I wanted to buy, but did not. I hope to bring some of them in the future. Even with a little self restraint, I still ended up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 wines.
I ordered the wines and set the deliveries for the week before we planned to open. I figured this would be plenty of time. Wrong. We had scheduled to host a fundraiser at our house the Sunday before we were to open. Just a little more pressure, no problem.
The deliveries were a special joy all to themselves. I had ordered three bottles of each wine selected, so there were many split cases with three bottles of four different wines each. Each and every bottle needs to be checked in and at least one of the distributors could not seem to get all three bottles of the same wine in one case! At least when this wine came in the salesman came in and helped check the wine in.
Once all the wine was in the store, we had to hand price every bottle, plan out the racks and place the wines. I had rack space for about 480 different wines and almost seven hundred different wines. So I had to run out and get metal racks to hold the overflow. We were working to get wines shelved until we opened our doors and actually had four cases still not priced or on display.
During our first week being open, we have had multiple sales each day even though we have done no promotion. Our computerized cash register and inventory system is still at least a week away from being installed, but we have been able limp along with a cash register left by the previous owners. This has a lot of work, more than I anticipated at the outset. Having to select a large number of wines at once to stock a store is difficult. I ended up caving to my desire to have a lot of neat wines and thus have more wine in the store than I had intended. Hopefully our customers appreciate the unique selection.
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