Odd question at the store..

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by MisterGrizz, Mar 31, 2012.

  1. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    So, I manage a liquor store for my family north of Dallas. It's a small store, but I've worked hard at getting the craft beer selection where it is today and pride myself in knowing what I am talking about and helping new (and old) craft beer enthusiasts find what they are looking for or grabbing something new.

    Today, a customer comes in and heads right into the cooler. We don't have a walk in cooler... Slightly confused I walk in and here is the conversation that went down..

    Me: "Sir? May I help you?"
    Customer: "Oh, do you have any Pliny the Elder?" (Just for the record, we are in Texas)
    Me: "Oh, I'm sorry, I am not actually able to get any of it in Texas. You won't find it here. It barely makes it out of California, to my knowledge."
    Customer: "Yeah, I thought so, I just wanted to check and see if you might have some."
    Me: "Yeah, I am sorry. Can I help you find a good IPA instead? I have quite a few." (I pointed out Jester King Wytchmaker, Clown Shoes Supa Hero, Left Hand Twisted Sister, Deschutes Hop Henge, BrewDog Hardcore IPA, West Coast IPA, etc.)
    Customer: "Nah, I was really just looking for that. Do you have any Rogue?" (I point out Hazelnut John John, Mocha Porter and Santa's Reserve)
    Customer: "Mmm, okay." *turns and leaves*

    And there you have it. It was an odd conversation to be sure. I may not have portrayed just how odd it was. Granted, I am not busting on the guy. I wanted to help him. It was just.. strange.. And IMO, anyone who knows and is looking for PtE should at least know the general state area it would be distributed. Texas seems like one of the least likely places for it to pop up you know? The whole conversation just threw me off :confused:

    Anyone else have a weird craft beer conversation like this? Or better yet have you met someone asking questions like this?
     
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  2. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,050) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    I could be the odd man out here, but I don't really think it's that weird. After I started really paying attention to the craft beer scene, it took me a while to really get a handle on where certain beers are distributed. Maybe this guy just heard "Pliny the Elder is the best beer in the world" and decided he wanted to get some.

    Once you understand how distribution works (and you have a better idea than most, being in the business) you forget how convoluted it can appear to people who aren't really focused on it.
     
  3. Cr0wBait

    Cr0wBait Aficionado (170) Florida Feb 17, 2012

    You, my friend, have never been to New Jersey.
     
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  4. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    You know, I hadn't thought of that. I do have a good idea of where beer is distributed in Texas, but not so the other states to be honest. I think it was his general demeanor about finding the beer is what threw me off. But you could also be right about the "Top Beer" thing too.

    He seemed like he knew his beer though because when I referred other IPA's (I don't think I stated this in my OP) he said he'd already tried them, so I assumed he knew his beers to a degree.
     
  5. beepthebot

    beepthebot Zealot (90) Indiana Nov 12, 2011

    As a liquor store worker, I get the "Do you have such-and-such?" question alot, and frequently when I show them the product, they are suddenly not interested at all. A strange phenomenon.
    One particularly annoying conversation went like:
    Woman: Do you have Shipyard's Pumpkinhead?
    Me: No, we're all out, but we have several other good pumpkin ales in...
    Woman: Oh no, I've tried them all and they don't hold a candle to Shipyard's.

    People just don't wanna hear it sometimes
     
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  6. davey101

    davey101 Initiate (0) Connecticut Apr 14, 2009

    In the summer I overheard a customer ask where the Westvleteren 12 (he pronounced it west-vletee-tron) was. The beer guy kinda laughed and explained the situation. He then pointed out st bernardus 12 and rochefort 10. The customer said he just wanted westy since it was the best beer in the world, then proceeded to grab some bud light. Customers gonna customer...
     
  7. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    And you, my friend, are very correct. Except maybe once in the 8th grade, but that doesn't count to this particular discussion :D
     
  8. I don't see a problem with that. When my store doesn't have wesvleteetron I always get bud. :D
     
  9. Graviz

    Graviz Savant (290) Colorado Feb 26, 2012

    I don't blame the guy. I always ask even if I know it's not distributed here. Here's why... Denver as you know hosts GABF and every now and then a brewery that normally doesn't distribute here will bring a bunch out of state beers to the local liquor stores here. I've alway wished Shorts would come to Colorado but they do not distribute here. I asked the beer guy in one of the stores here and he had a bunch of Shorts 6 packs from GABF last year. Chances are it won't happen ofter but you never know unless you ask.
     
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  10. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    Oh c'mon, you know MGD mows down Westvleteetron and Bud at the same time. Know your beer please.
     
    davey101 likes this.
  11. Lol Bud Light. Nice way to end that. Good thing the store owner didn't have a stash in the back somehow. The dude would've ended up drainpouring it.
     
  12. davey101

    davey101 Initiate (0) Connecticut Apr 14, 2009

    You c'mon! This was the summer which brought us MGD 64 lemonade. The customer clearly has no taste to ignore a beer like that.
     
  13. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    I can see that in Colorado, however Texas is much deeper in the desert of craft beer distribution, although not as bad as many states. We don't get hardly any of that good beer north of the Mason-Dixon line and don't have the craft beer reverence and respect that Coloradans(?) do sadly. It has grown vastly in the past year and is going to explode soon, but as someone who has tried a bunch of beer, i.e. that customer, it just threw me off that he didn't want to hear what I had to say in addition to llooking for PtE in Texas, that's all. Just a strange customer situation. And I've had my fair share of those a-thankyou.
     
  14. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    No YOU c'mon! Haven't you heard? Bud Light Limarita and Michelob Ultra Lemonade Tea are coming this summer! And oh will the BMC's flock to it... like a pre-teen leaving Twilight for the Hunger Games.
     
  15. radio2525

    radio2525 Savant (255) Ohio Feb 14, 2012

    Yea it happens more then you would think. I have a friend who works in a nice beer store and he told me at least once a week a person will come in looking for PTE, PTY, Westvleteren 12, dark lord, CBS and he explains there limited release, not disturbed, etc. and suggest other things they say i was only looking for those beers. This what happens we new beer peaple just go to the BA top 100 list
     
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  16. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,050) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    I'll flip this around a little with another anecdote to give you a different perspective.

    I've only really been into craft beer for a little more than a year. Before that I usually drank craft beer (I live in Seattle after all, so this is by default), I just didn't really pay attention or care. Anyway, I start checking out BA, see that Pliny the Elder is one of the top-ranked beers. So I go to my local grocery store that has a good beer selection, look everywhere thoroughly for a bottle of Pliny (it is distributed in Washington, as well as Oregon, Colorado, and Philadelphia)... don't find it. I'm about to give up when the beer guy asks me if I need any help. "I'm looking for Pliny the Elder?" I ask, probably looking confused and unsure. He gives me an odd little smile and goes to the back room, brings out a bottle of Pliny for me. Now to me, as a shopper I'm thinking the beer guy's demeanor is a little weird. I mean, first of all, why don't they just put the damn beer out in the cooler so I can find it without having to ask somebody? And why do I get this "speakeasy" attitude when I ask for it?

    I'm not really sure what the point of the story is, except to point out that everyone's perception of an event is colored by the knowledge and experience they bring to it. And I guess that's why I didn't find your story to be so unusual. Seems pretty plausible, actually, and I'd think it would be fairly common in your line of work.
     
  17. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    First, I enjoyed the speakeasy reference.

    Second, I don't hide bottles in the back. It is first come first serve, and I know BA's have different opinions on that.

    The point of my story was merely to state how odd it was, per my circumstances, that he was acting the way he was acting. I hadn't come in contact with a customer with quite that demeanor. I get ones who know beer and want to learn more, ones who don't know but want to know more, the BMC crowd, the adventurous want-to-try-new-beer-but-don't-want-to-pay-for-a-six-pack-and-will-drain-it-if-I-don't-like-it crowd, and variations in between. But I've never had a guy who has tried many, in his opinion, beers and didn't want to listen to me and left without acknowledging my effort is all. I wanted to know if anyone else has experienced this and what their thoughts were.
     
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  18. I actually understood, or misread, this a little differently. When the OP says the customer walked into "the cooler" but the store doesn't have a walk-in cooler, I pictured a customer walking into the employee-only area where they keep beers cold in the back. I thought the customer was assuming you had a secret pliny stash and wanted to find it himself behind the scenes.
     
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  19. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,050) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    Don't misunderstand my anecdote, it wasn't intended in any way to criticize you or other beer sellers. I appreciate the stores that just put Pliny out on the shelf like any other beer (rare as that is), but I also understand why others don't.

    Only you experienced this encounter with this particular customer, so only you really know what his demeanor was like and obviously you can judge for yourself how relatively odd it was. Who knows, maybe he's just a flake. Maybe he just got out of the asylum. Other people who work on your side of the counter can certainly speak more knowledgeably about this situation than I can.
     
  20. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    You know.. maybe he was a loon. I just don't know. Maybe a spy from Sierra Nevada trying to sabotage Pliny sales?!? Who knows? I wish we sold Pliny in Texas/my store so we all could have won! Me with a paying customer and him with his most favored top beer up there with Westvleteetron :)
     
  21. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    THAT MUST HAVE BEEN IT! I will explain my cooler situation. It does, despite me saying it is not a walk in cooler, have a walk-in door, if that makes sense. Right next to the craft beer too. I need a sign on it, but alas, haven't gotten around to doing so. It basically opens up into the entire cooler from there where all the beer (and liquor) is stored. It's a small liquor store and that's where our storage is, don't judge. He must have known my secret and tried to steal all my stashed Pliny from me. Good thing I moved it to another secret location. Suck on that, customer!
     
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  22. ScooBoo

    ScooBoo Disciple (70) Georgia Feb 5, 2011

    My guess is that he thought that you were one of the owners that kept stuff in the back for your regular customers. He didn't want you to tell him you didn't have it, so he bypassed you and went to the cooler to see for himself.

    And for the people that come in only for the high ranked beer and will accept no substitutes are probably just ebay resellers.

    I always think the worst of people. :)
     
  23. aasher

    aasher Champion (910) Indiana Jan 27, 2010

    I had a guy come in and ask for KBS. All of our KBS was spoken for. I told him that we had just received eight cases of Double Trouble in for first time in a month (before that day we had only received two cases, twice). He told me to Fuck off. I wasn't too happy with that response. I followed up with DT being another world class beer, and my personal favorite for the style. He didn't care. I guess he doesn't support Founders....
     
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  24. aasher

    aasher Champion (910) Indiana Jan 27, 2010

    And for the record, I'm in Indianapolis and get the Pliny question all the time. Casual beer consumers have no idea what distribution is like.
     
  25. davey101

    davey101 Initiate (0) Connecticut Apr 14, 2009

    Should have grabbed one of the KBS's from the back and beat him with it. Who the hell tells an employee to fuck off?!
     
  26. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,050) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    Wait. This guy told you to fuck off, and you kept trying to help him? Thankfully I'm not in a customer service-related job, but as soon as I heard that response I guarantee I'd have turned and walked away.
     
  27. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    Wow. Now I feel bad for posting at all. I've had customers on the liquor side say things like that. Awful things. But nothing ever on the beer side. Usually us craftbeerians (I'm coining that term) are quite pleasant and love engaging.. but I think your situation sadly comes from all the great "whales" you guys get in that area. We don't get many down here... Abyss, BA Rasputin, Avery limiteds, Great Divide... There are more than that, but nothing really crazy.
     
  28. aasher

    aasher Champion (910) Indiana Jan 27, 2010

    I really love Double Trouble so I had to stand on my soapbox.
     
  29. aasher

    aasher Champion (910) Indiana Jan 27, 2010

    People who don't normally shop at your store yet come in only for special releases are weird about things. Asking if anything is rare in the back doesn't help.
     
  30. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    Hah! Yeah it doesn't. I wish we had beer here that people are that crazy about. It's kind of a hassle, but its great for sales and getting the word out that you have good selection. The only ones here that I carry that people come in and look for are Rahr limiteds, Saint Arnold limiteds and Jester King. Local stuff. You should have seen the ridiculousness when SA Pumpkinator released.

    The word and hype is getting out about those, but Texas is still lagging in the craft beer scene. It's growing though.
     
  31. One possible alternative is that the guy was just coming in to check out the selection and didn't have any money to buy. If you ask if you can help him find something, he says PtE because he knows it's not distributed in the area so he has an instant "out" for why he's not purchasing anything*. Chances are if you respond by talking about the lack of distribution to that area, and say that you wish you could get it out in Texas, he'll respect your knowledge of craft beer and return for the time when he's ready to make a bottle purchase.

    *I've seen many BAs admit to this strategy for naming the unobtainable bottle as a way of letting a shop owner know that although they're a serious beer shopper, they're not gonna be buying anything on that particular visit.
     
  32. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    I've never heard of this tactic! What a complex way of shopping! That would be sweet should that actually be the case here.
     
  33. UHCougar12

    UHCougar12 Advocate (500) Texas Feb 21, 2011

    I feel like the awkward part is "customer comes in and heads right into the cooler. We don't have a walk in cooler". To be honest I wouldn't know what to do if someone crossed company boundaries, and walked into "the back" to proceed to question me about my inventory. I applaud you for handling the situation the way you did.
     
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  34. aasher

    aasher Champion (910) Indiana Jan 27, 2010

    It happens all the time. Our door says employees on it, twice. Every once in awhile ill get the "When did Indiana start getting Cigar City/Foothills/Russian River?" question. We don't, I keep a personal stash in the cooler to share with the staff.
     
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  35. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    Thanks! Customer service is where it is at these days and people really notice when you are doing it right, even if you don't have 30 kegs of Pliny with IV stations set up for instant satisfaction. :D

    I've used this word plenty of times this post, but it was an odd moment for me. Maybe he was a cyborg spy sent from the future to take stock of Pliny inventory due to it becoming the most valuable and sought after resource in the world.
     
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  36.  
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  37. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,050) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    I wish more businesses understood this fundamental concept.
     
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  38. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    Same here, I love dishing it out, because it is also self gratifying when you can serve someone and make them happy. Not to blow my own horn, but everywhere I go I don't see the same service that we give at my store and it makes me sad. We are known for that service here and everyone that comes in loves us and hates going elsewhere. That hard work pays off.
     
  39. Hanzo

    Hanzo Champion (955) Virginia Feb 27, 2012

    I know PtE isn't available in my state, but my craft shop has a RR growler on display so I had to ask.....just in case.
     
  40. MisterGrizz

    MisterGrizz Savant (280) Texas Jan 8, 2011

    Now that's just a tease! You need to scold the shop owner for getting your hopes up!
     

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