A few months ago I was listening to a report on NPR about how alcohol sales are effected by the economy. The conclusion was that they’re not. People drink when they’re happy and rich and people drink when they’re depressed and broke but no matter what, they’re drinking. The only difference is that when the economy is good people drink is bars and clubs and when the economy is bad they buy their alcohol at the liquor stores. But the manufacturers of alcohol maintain steady sales throughout. Vodka, beer, tequila: those are recession proof industries.
Now, within walking distance to my place there are a handful of boutiques that have Friday “specials.” They mark a few things down for the day, some of the items go down as low as 20% off but I don’t think that’s what brings people into those stores on Friday. I think the attraction is that on Friday afternoons and evenings these boutiques also serve free wine to those who come in to shop. Originally there was only one store who was doing this in my neighborhood but the number has gone up to at least three or four and for good reason. The alcohol not only brings people into the store, it also lowers their inhibitions and makes them a little more reckless...with their check cards. Yes, it’s much easier to splurge when you’ve had a glass or two of wine. By the third glass you’re likely to move from, “I really shouldn’t,” to, “Why the hell not?”
That got me thinking. Maybe ALL stores should be employing this tactic. How much more likely would you be to attend Sears’ kitchen appliance sale if they were using some of those appliances to make margaritas for their customers? Sure, they’d need a liquor license but I think they could get their hands on one of those if they really tried. And alcohol tends to make people more confident so if Ikea was serving wine then you’d be more likely to look at that elaborate armoire and say, “Yes, I think I WILL be able to put that together myself!” And for the more expensive stores like Neimans or Tiffany’s, places where the price tags are more than a little intimidating, in those places they could serve shots. When it comes to my business it’s a little trickier. I don’t know if people are more likely to buy books while their drinking, particularly if their vision is getting too blurry to read the words on the page. But I do know that some bookstores serve wine at book signing events which I think is fabulous. I’m not a professional actress and nowhere near as good of a reader as the woman who records my audiobooks but I’m sure it’s a lot more fun to listen to me read from Vows, Vendettas & A Little Black Dress after you’ve had a glass of wine. And I’ll bet that the book events that serve free wine get bigger attendance.
So there you have it. My solution to our economic crisis is to get everybody liquored up. Not falling down drunk or anything, just happily buzzed. Buzzed shoppers make good customers. It’s unorthodox but nothing else seems to be working very well so I think it’s worth a shot...preferably of Petrone.
Bestselling Author of:The Sophie Katz Mystery Series
So Much For My Happy Ending
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