by Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte)
The day that I thought would never come actually came a week ago Saturday. That was the day that we opened for business and had our first customer. It was a very soft opening because we really didn’t know whether everything that we had put in place would work, and we certainly didn’t want to have a bunch of people and a major foul up at the same time.
So all we did was put up an open sign. I was not expecting very many people, but even so Saturday was quite a disappointment. Three people showed up.
But Sunday was quite a bit better, with maybe 20 people coming through the door. I didn’t keep count of what percentage of people bought, but it had to have been north of 80%, so we were pleased by that.
We are still trying to figure out what hours makes sense for us. As an experiment, I tried staying open late Wednesday afternoon, but it was a bust. I’ll probably retry that experiment when we do more to publicize our existence, but at this point I have no plans to repeat that experiment in the next few weeks.
Yesterday, Friday, we tried opening again and didn’t get as many customers as we did on Sunday, but sold nearly as much, so that was heartening.
It is unbelievable, however, how much time you spend on the most mundane of things. We have twice scheduled delivery of a number of pallets of wine, and we still don’t have them. We ended up picking up enough to get by with our pickup trucks, but we are still waiting for our major delivery.
The first trucking company flaked out on us at the last minute. Just decided that they weren’t interested in the pickup we had scheduled the week before. No real excuse except that they got busy with more established customers.
The second trucker showed up at the warehouse. The trucker said the warehouse knew nothing about them. The warehouse said that the trucker knew that they needed to schedule a pickup before hand, and not just show up unannounced, and that the product was waiting on the loading dock. The one person who could have actually figured it all out happened be on lunch at the time, so, bottom line, the trucker left, and we did not get our wine. And, of course, when the trucker ran into problems, instead of calling the phone number that I given him he called my home number where, of course, I wasn’t, since I’d gone to the winery to receive the shipment. And all this time I was frantically trying to get a hold of anyone and only reaching voicemail. So it was not a good day, to say the lease.
ln the end, it really doesn’t matter. The trucker and the warehouse can trade barbs til hell freezes over, but we are the ones that are still sitting here waiting for our shipment.
So at this point I have spent countless hours picking up wine in my pickup truck, contacting what at this point has to be a dozen truckers trying to arrange shipment, when what I really need to be doing is focusing on getting the word out that we are here and open. So that is as frustrating as it could be.
But, at least, we are open. And so for that, at least, I am thankful.