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Since we opened I’ve had a few people query as to how we went about in creating our range. “Complete and utter genius from me”………is what I’d like to say but it’s not quite that simple.
In developing our listing we had many facets to look at, primarily budget! We had to sit there and work out exactly how much money we had to spend before we could begin looking at stock. Once that had been established the next step was to work out what kind of wines we wanted on our shelves. Fortunately myself and James were both singing from the same hymn sheet, quirky & boutique!
There is an entire world of wine out there which passes the masses by via overproduced,
big corporate brands that you will see in every supermarket and chain High St retailer, bugger that! We want people to experience the joys of wine from all corners of the globe, an elliptical/spherical object that has corners..always puzzles me that analogy, with grapes that aren’t widely recognised from ‘a’ particular country, introducing wines from emerging nations and delivering choice so that each shopping episode offers something potentially unique and different.
We needed to do this in a shop that is around 400 square feet and has no storage facility. Believe me, it was a challenge!
First things first, we knew we wouldn’t be using one or two large suppliers. To commit to large purchase distributors would cripple us as a business before we could get the doors open and, besides,
it would limit choice. It would benefit our business to use guys who could allow us the freedom to purchase in smaller quantities, for example – minimum 5 dozen bts or £300, with rapid lead times.
Next up we had to find them. Between the pair of us we already had experience in working in the independent sector, me with North & South Wines in Battersea, London, and as a freelancer, and James at The Wine Reserve in Cobham, Surrey. Our past roles had saved us loads of man hours in researching good, reliable sources for our range. All we had to do now was sit there, calculate physical shelf space, find a balance amongst our lines and hit acceptable price points across all products.
Having contacted various agents we amassed a large portfolio of brochures to peruse and scrutinise. We sat for about 3 weeks with mock shelf plans; picking wines from agencies we were both already familiar with and fit our criteria, sifting through wines that were of general interest to us and could offer a point of difference on the shelves, working out all the finer details, add a product here, take one out from there. Did we have enough of one style or was there too much?! Did we feel we were being to pricey and who could we look at, like Boutinot, to offer us great value for money wines that could sit at under £8. Were we within our budget!
We worked this process across all areas. At one point we were short a sub £10 bottle of Prosecco. I jumped on LinkedIn asking for any links to quality sources. I got a few responses back, the strangest one was a chap pointing me in the direction of a Franciacorta producer, hardly a sub £10 wine now, is it? Luckily though Daniel Lambert & Moreno answered. We were sent a sample From Lambert and Moreno sent a rep down to try some wines with us, all of which were added to our range. Never fault the power of social media.
Our spirit and beer range was fairly simple to work with. James, being a man of the grain, already had a good idea with what he wanted in. All lines were initially brought in by Venus and Emporia brands, with only a couple of recognised brands added. We had looked at how the spirit market in the UK had changed and developed over the last few years and we weren’t overtly fussed about offering entry level products. Nowadays, when it comes to spirits, the consensus is that consumers are willing to spend a bit more on quality rather than quantity.
The same could be said with our beers too. As both of us are avid beer drinkers we would
have this reflected in our range with a large selection of national and international beers. Local was something we looked at too. The amount of microbreweries that have opened up in London in recent times highlights a demand and shift away from the old stalwarts that have dominated retailers shelves and bar pumps for what seems like a millennia! A friend of mine mentioned Kew Brewery in Richmond, London, whilst others had spoken about Twickenham Fine Ales just up the road from our shop. I had also worked with the guys at the Belleville Brewing Company in Battersea when they first launched about 4-5 years ago.
At launch we had just over 330 still wines, 130 craft beers, ales & ciders, 100 spirits and 27 sparkling wines and Champagne, with only one grande marque Champagne on our list too, got to support the artisan Champagne producer.
All this comes from 18 suppliers, which also includes a everyday wholesaler featured above and below.
This is by no means an end. As we progress we also spend a lot of time reviewing and taking in requests, which in turn means we find more interesting suppliers like Red Squirrel Wine, North South Wine (the distributor and not my previous employer) etc. Not bad for a shop with 400 square feet of floorspace!
56 Church St, Twickenham, Middlesex, TW1 3NR
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