Monday, October 12, 2009

Reading the Customer's Mind

One of the ongoing challenges we face as a small business is the question, what else do we want to sell besides our wine? When we were considering opening the winery, we talked to a lot of small winery owners to get advice and input.

One consistent comment I heard in the way of advice was, “Don’t spend a bunch of money on accessories!” It was suggested that too often you tied way too much money up in do-hickies and gadgets that only a few people might want to buy. Your money was better spent on items directly related to wine and wine drinking that are proven winners, sales-wise.

Let me tell you, even a small place like ours gets many calls each week from salespeople with wine-related stuff they want us to buy from them so we can sell. Recently, I had a call from a guy who sells wine and grape themed jewelry, he claimed we could make “big money” selling his stuff. Yea, right.

We have made some good choices and a few bad ones. We bought a bunch of glass cutting boards, those have not sold well, but I still like them myself. We recently brought in a new wine bottle stopper made of silicone, rather then the old plastic models we had been selling. They are supposed to last longer and give a better seal. We’ll see…

I have always been cheap when it comes to corkscrews, preferring a simple $10 model to the $25 fancy-pants gizmos some people use. We have sold a few of the fancy ones, but at least one broke the first time it was used and it took me three months to get a replacement.

We have always had a few artists and craftspeople whose goods we sell on consignment during the gift-giving season. This year we have some hand-painted glasses and wine bottles that are beautiful and have been selling very well! They have been very popular as wedding gifts I notice and I suspect they will continue to sell well as we get farther along in the year.

Keep us in mind when you are shopping for that hard-to-satisfy friend or relative, where else can you find locally-made joy-in-a-bottle that makes a great gift?!?

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