How we help….
By: George Balling
I received an email last week from one of our customers and friends. It was the kind of email as a business owner that you love receiving, we have been fortunate to receive quite a few like this over the years, they never get old, and they are always a great source of “psychological income” that allows you a moment to feel like you are doing some things right.
The email from one of our wine club members started out by telling us that they had been in Spokane shopping at a store that is part of a well-regarded nationwide grocery chain. They went on to explain how they had heard much about the wine selection at this chain and decided to try a couple of bottles. It doesn’t surprise or disappoint us, while we try to provide a deep selection covering all the major appellations and varietals, and provide the advice that helps each customer pick the right bottle for them, we know there are many choices out there. Our customer told us that they opened the first bottle, poured a glass and after a couple of sips dumped the rest down the drain. They tried the second bottle they had purchased with similar results, down the drain again. She finished by sharing with us that they have never done that with a bottle purchased from The Dinner Party, adding that they have never gotten a bad bottle of wine from us.
We never like hearing that someone had to dump a bottle of wine because it didn’t meet their expectations, even when it was purchased somewhere else. We are wine professionals after all and our hope for our industry, and our commitment in our own shop is to always work to match the perfect bottle with each and every customer. We do this regardless of budget, likes or dislikes, it is our job and our goal each and every visit. That is what in many ways made the email from our customer so rewarding, it let us know that we are getting there.
About the same time the email came in, I saw an ad in the Sunday Coeur d’Alene Press put out by another big box store located in Spokane. The ad touted their 1,137 wines under $10. I found the ad puzzling. Why would you spend the money to advertise this? More importantly why is it an accomplishment to have amassed this many bottles of inexpensive wine? I can’t imagine what would make up such a load of wine like this nor do I understand the motivation. Most importantly for wine consumers how would you ever be able to match a bottle to someone’s tastes and preferences when you have a sea of inexpensive private label wine with absolutely no line of heritage to the wine.
The answer is you can’t and you wouldn’t. The only point of that ad is to deliver the message we have cheap wine and it doesn’t matter one bit what it tastes like and who would like any individual bottle. It reduces wine to a delivery system for alcohol. In short, it completely misses the point of wine.
We carry bottles at that price, everyone of our customers has their own budgetary level. We respect and understand that and work every time to match the right bottle with the right customer, the point is you don’t need 1,137 bottles at any price point to accomplish that goal. You do need a deep understanding of the wines you offer and your client’s likes and preferences and to us that is the true essence of what we do.
Sometimes it takes an email, or a conversation or a competitor’s ad to realize how great our job is! We get to come in to our shop everyday and work with our customers on something that brings them great pleasure. While there are so many challenges in the world we get to talk about wine and witness up close the enjoyment when someone tastes a bottle of wine that hits the mark.
I had a conversation the other day in the shop where both of us were discussing a particular bottle of wine and the first time we had it. Both of our stories were fun and involved not just the wine but the context of the wine, who we were with, where we were and what we were eating. My conversation mate and I both agreed that wine without that context, and without the knowledge of what we enjoy and why is just wine, the real pleasure is derived from all of the parts of the memory. It is what we commit to doing with all of you on every visit to our shop, it is how we help.