In the wee hours of Tuesday last, Tiffany Hereth Adamowski—my female comrade, who also runs a beer retail shop with her husband called 99 Bottles, way over yonder in Washington state—snuck into my head and stole my thoughts. She wrote the blog post I’d been dreaming of. The one that I’d hoped to write. (The one I’d have the balls to write.) The ONE. The post of all posts from a retailer perspective. She wrapped everything up in one tidy, informative blog post that covered all my angst and inability to make sense of “The System” to myself, let alone my customers—and BONUS! She actually had the patience to write it down.
You see, even though we, the retailers, are the ones at the end of the line that deal directly with the customer (and I’m not including bars here), no one really pays a lot of attention to us. And it’s weird. It’s not that either of us are complaining. We’re just saying: It doesn’t make sense. Tiffany is specifically speaking about the great educational possibilities in the relationship between beer retailers and beer bloggers. Amen. I agree 100%. But, I’m going to go further on relationships, here.
There are, quite frankly, very few breweries who have top-noptch Brewery > Retail relationships. I would say that same holds true in Wholesalers/Distributors > Retail relationships. It’s a massive system of communication breakdown. It would truly be the Flowchart From Hell to put it into words. In there exists unholy marriages and broken promises. Hard, upspoken feelings. Treading lightly. Strange goings-on. The Works. The kind of thing that would make a really, really good book to about two-thousand people or so, maybe.
Here it is: We are the front lines, but no one asks us anything. Ever. (Well, hardly ever. That would be overly dramatic.) We have reports. We can tell you exactly what of your packaged product is selling, and when, or how long it takes to sell. Hell, I can tell you that a man/woman, depending on security camera footage, with last-four digits xxxx on a debit card, bought a mixed-six of this and that, totalling $14.41 at exactly 5:39pm last Tuesday, but the lack of wanting to know, and therefore, educate the public about “How Sh*t Works in the Beer Business” must not be really important right? RIGHT? We could spend half the day answering consumer questions that probably should be on your website—but wait, it can’t be on there, because the strange red tape the higher-ups got into make it illegal, so we’ll bury it somewhere (in maybe a government page?), that you may or may not be only able to access via password (in some states), and only a few have requested that password, anyway, so it’s unlikely that anyone will even care… even though I get asked the same question every day without fail. You know what? The extra time it takes to make it easy on the consumer to find information, makes it easier for us to relay the information. Except, we handle it and you don’t. Some days, I don’t know how to handle it. Give us the tools we need. Please.
You get the point. It could be better. That’s all I’m saying. If you are even reading this. (And, I do hope you are. Probably, 99 Bottles and many others independent retailers hope you are, too.) If do you it well—the Brewery > Retail relationship or the Wholesale/Distributor > Retail relationship—you are laughing at me right now, because you know me in real life. If you don’t, you’re hopefully considering sending your army out for a little street detail, because contrary to opinion, we have something of value to you: Knowledge.
And, yes, I’m well aware that I will probably catch sh*t for this post, because I’m supposed to be updating the website, so IN FULL DISCLOSURE, this is Julie writing, and the above is just my two-cent add-on to what that Tiffany says below, that she nor Jason may agree with me, SO I HEREBY CLAIM those statements to be mine and mine alone, forever and amen. Thank you very much. Elvis has left the building.
But before you read it, let me throw another two cents in. What Tiffany is really saying is: If these guys don’t care, how on earth do we get our job done? And done well? Let’s call out the front lines, the folks who drink. Let’s educate there, beer drinker to drinker, beer blogger to blogger. And, locally, I think Asheville could really, really benefit from a bigger beer blogger presence. Both of our most active beer writers are journalists (and soon-to-be-authors, like Anne-Fitten Glenn). Why are there no real beer drinkers in Asheville blogging about beer? I mean we are “Beer City,” right? And we have a Blogging Society? We’re proud of our beers aren’t we? Hello? Is this thing on?
So enjoy the dirty details of our experience, a.k.a. “The System,” from start to finish. But know this from the start: Everyone knows the system is broken. And, do you know why no one can understand it? Because, how could you possibly? It’s insane, utterly ridiculous at times, put-your-fist-through-a-wall FRUSTRATING. There, I said it. But, the great news is, what applies here in North Carolina, applies there (mostly) up in Washington, so I no longer have to give myself a headache about that One Great Blog Post. The one I’d been dreaming of. The one I’d hoped to write. (The one I’d have the balls to write.) The ONE. Because Tiff did it.
So today, I have a new hero. It’s Tiffany. Today, I raise my beer glass to her while yelling “NAILED IT!” at the top of my lungs.
The post was reprinted with permission from 99pours.com. (@99pours)