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Wine Merchants

Author: mark b  |  Category: Wine
Published: April 16, 2010

Wine merchants used to be avuncular chaps in dusty aprons who chatted knowledgeably about grape and vintage in the cloistered coolness of a high street store. Customers could come into a wine merchants’ and receive not just goods but knowledge – a knowledge that made them feel a part of the business of wine making, a privileged end product for whom the whole vinous industry was working. The things wine merchants taught their customers made them (the wine merchants) unique, a sort of cross between priest and acolyte, instilling the fervour of the grape and the bottle into the people who visited their stores. Were, apart from the wine merchant, could you find a tradesperson who courted business as much for the love of their product as for the profit it brought?

Then, of course, the internet happened. And high street stores of all stripes put down their shutters for good, unable to cope with the migration of customers to virtual marketplaces, where stock is bought and sold in numbers and delivered peremptorily in faceless vans. The internet had (and has) no soul – but it was, and is, quick, convenient and almost never without whatever consumers want. The humble wine merchant, presumably, with his and her unique combination of passion and product, was doomed, in this aseptic new shopping model, to turn up toes and die like all the rest.

Only it didn’t happen. The wine merchant, unlike almost every other individual high street shop, found the internet and thrived. Why? Because, as well as being a globalised marketplace, the internet is a bottomless well of information. Remember what it was originally called- ‘The Information Superhighway’. A place where knowledge could be passed freely among peers.

The high street wine merchant founded a whole industry on the idea of passing out knowledge. Knowledge, the wine merchant knew (way before the Information Superhighway found it out) creates peers – and peers buy the stuff that knowledge makes them aware of. When a wine merchant teaches a client about wine, that client is initiated into the delightfully arcane world of wine appreciation: feeling, as a result, a kinship with all the peers that world gives them. So they return to their wine merchant every week, tied to a store or brand by the unshakeable loyalty that comes out of belonging to a peer group – a tribe. Uniquely, the wine merchant has thrived online for this very reason. The internet creates peer groups almost by default (one only has to examine the millions of Facebook “groups” popping up daily like so many digital mushrooms) – and wine merchants, on the internet, suddenly have access to a gross number of potential customers far in excess of the modest headcount they could command while tied to a specific location in a particular town.

The wine merchant was, and is, lucky. A wine merchant thrives on niche-hood: and the Information Superhighway, or internet as we now call her, is a street built either of niches or huge conglomerates. Nothing else lives for long in there – just those two opposites. With his (or her) unique blend of privileged knowledge and commercial product, the wine merchant, unlike anyone else, has survived the collapse of the physical high street with unshakeable, cheerful aplomb.

Author: mark b

Bottled water coolers are convenient to use both in offices and homes. They are easy to install and would ensure constant supply of tasty drinking water through out the day.

This author has published 171 articles so far.

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