Wine shops as jewelry stores?

The good folks over at NPR’s Planet Money had a short piece on pricing at jewelry stores recently (Episode 572, mysteriously not on their website). Frustrated with why jewelry stores hide the price tags of items in the case, the reporter wondered whey they would do that. It turns out that then shop owners can pull out a piece that a consumer expresses interest in and then tell the backstory.

So it made my wine mind wonder…why don’t boutique wine shops do that?

Some shops decry the price leveling competition of the internet. And others are big enough that people want to zip in, do a quick, self-guided browse or scan pay and go.

But there are a lot of small shops across America where there are knowledgable staffs where the strong selections are all what the industry calls a “hand sell” anyway. So why not force consumers to ask the price? Unlike a jewelry store, wine bottles aren’t behind glass, so there would have to be no prices displayed, rather than just flipping the price tag over as in a jewelry case. (There could be a printed price list at the counter for a quick scan by price and for a consumer to make sure the same price was being offered to everyone.) The wine industry relishes stories and this would give shop owners and staff a better chance to tell them.

The downside is that consumers are more educated about wine and the lack of visible prices could be annoying. And constantly having to ask the price after listening to s spiel would be a tad annoying and make even someone not normally concerned with price to appear to have a fixation on prices like Ebenezer Scrooge. In fact, this would be extremely tedious but this is where the price sheet/ipad would come in for the more savvy customer.

What do you think?

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9 Responses to “Wine shops as jewelry stores?”


  1. I imagine something similar could be achieved with a short paragraph, likely printed in a font reminiscent of handwriting. If the price is written out in English along with the paragraph then people are more likely to read the story too. If the price is in numbers, people may just skip the story altogether.


  2. I think retailers are most successful when they’re set up to serve customers instead of the owners, which in my mind eliminates the use of any tactic that involves the verb “force.” The idea is to figure out how to entice customers to want to hear the story.

    One way to do that is to collect as many email addresses as possible and give the back story for selected wines that way. I have made many, many wine purchases based on emails and also feel all warm and fuzzy toward the seller who made me want to do it! I wouldn’t visit a second time a wine seller who made me ask about prices.


  3. I was just recently in such a store (which shall remain nameless, but it was a notable one in a bigger city that I was visiting on vacation) and I found it incredibly frustrating, to the point that I left without purchasing a thing. I do see what you’re going for there, yes, but honestly, that plus the word “boutique” makes me think: “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it”. Perhaps this would work in some tony zip codes, but I would imagine the rest of us would be either annoyed or offended.


  4. Also, August’s idea is fantastic. I fully support that!


  5. Good comments! Christine, nice point that anything that “forces” the consumers is not likely to do well in a competitive market.

    August – writing out the price in letters would be a fascinating experiment!

    MF – interesting that such a store exists! Was it new (thus possibly changing their sales model soon)? Or only selling very expensive wines?


  6. A great idea. Except from October through December, when the idea is to move bottles, all bottles, in all price ranges, and there’s no time for Story Hour.


  7. Give.Me.A.Break.

    There’s way too much hype and BS in the wine business already.

    I buy wines with interesting flavor, not overpriced, that allow me to compose my own story when I drink them, generally with food, in good company.


  8. give me a Break. are you kidding.. you are too surrounded with elites and rich people.
    Wine is to consume and frankly the jewelery business promotes elitism and exploitation of people in third world countires in toxic mining pits


  9. People who buy jewelry generally want to leisurely throw their money around.

    People who buy wine generally do not.

    In a wine retail shop, the majority of customers would leave if they had to ask for the price of every wine, especially the ones on their way home from work.


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