A lonely wine girl and a co-op group of Asian Indian run wine stores walk into a tasting….
Sounds like a joke, but it is the truth. Now, I know what you are thinking. What in the world could my skills bring to these stores. If you believe the hype, you may say to yourself- how is she going to effect this category of wine shops, and who cares because she will be thrown out on her over-blown wine rear end. So did everyone I worked with at the time. I was a wine manager, selling my portfolio, trying to gain acceptance in my community, and well, failing miserably. I couldn’t speak this quick and smarmy wine smoozyness that I heard the salesmen around me spatting. They were slick, a little to friendly, and ready with the deal of a lifetime. I had viticulture facts and tasting notes…
Who schooled me on the business of wine? Who became a mentor in the wine slight of hand? Amrish Vakil – this is not even a joke. Amrish is a wine shop owner, as well as one of the controllers of a co-op buying group (NJ Wine Merchants). I knew about these groups, but just thought they dealt with commercial stuff. What I didn’t know was how they responded to one another. They are a COMMUNITY of entrepreneurs, ready to expand and improve, always interested and educated in the next big brand. They have buying power, and deal it out with grace. They wanted to become my PARTNER in business. What a concept, huh? Sure, they wanted a deal, but a deal they could bring to their consumer. They are in it for the long haul; this isn’t a one stop dump and go. Amrish impressed upon me I that needed to expand my thinking. Think BIGGER. He taught me that I could effect my own company with my own ideas. I started to speak up. I mapped out pricing goals with time lines and case expectancies, I ran wine classes for all of them, I held countless dinners and brought every winemaker I could to meet them….and this was just the beginning.
Last week I saw this group at a tasting. With my new professional direction, it had been a while. My name was sung (SOO-SAN!!!!!) followed by hugs, kisses. Sure, this was a spectacle, and I loved every moment. My now boss thought it was a joke. How in the world do you know these guys, and why are they so excited to see you?
Every day is new, and every day changes me. Lately, life got a little toss in the air, and I needed to re-group. When I saw Amrish, it was like I was bolted into a reality I can count on. He will always challenge me. I will always want to meet this challenge. With a few disappointments of late, and a few “oh no” situations, Amrish and his merry men put me almost at ease. It’s like the comfy chair that has the spring poking you in the ass – you still lounge in it, and refuse to move.
Are you ready New Jersey Wine Merchants – because, I think it is time for another go at it….