But we then peeled ourselves off the ceiling and actually thought about what she was saying and suddenly the visceral reaction (though enjoyable) didn't necessarily make as much sense. When you think about what she was saying as a wine buyer for the sixth largest retailer in the US it makes a bit more business sense. Basically, putting words in her mouth, Costco needs to move product in the most efficient manner possible for the business and for its members. So, that product has to sell and be sold to them at a price that allows Costco to pass savings along to members and still make a profit. Those bottles can't sit, they gotta move. So if you take that personal argument to heart, in that model a buyer would never sell the wines just because they would move, they would be constantly searching for those gems that fellow wine geeks would love to get their hands on but might not know about. In the Costco world that is a huge FAIL. You need to be getting the best and most popular wines at the absolute best price you can so it will fly off the shelves. For example, think of buying 50,000 cases of Yellow Tail Shiraz and putting it on sale in the US for $4.99 a bottle down from $6.99 in your local supermarket. That is a steal of a deal and will sell. Further to that, according the article we read on the Orange County Register website, and again we quote:
"Costco is now the largest American importer of French wines, including some pretty impressive houses such as Château Mouton Rothshild and Château Pétrus. None are marked up more than 15 percent.
And Costco is fairly picky – no more than 200 different wines are available, though the list changes regularly."
So, is wine just a beverage or is it art? Your answer to that question will begin to form what camp you are in on this one.
For us, we can absolutely see both sides of this. Wine is something we are passionate about so when someone, for whatever reason, diminishes it specialness....well we can get a little testy. Wine is NOT Coca-Cola or Vitamin Water or whatever else they have on sale this week. That said, it is still a product, a thing to be bought and sold and if they are being pragmatic about the sale of that product they will treat it as such: a product with a profit margin and shelf life (as sad as that may sound). On the wine nerd side of things, that simply makes Costco a purchaser of convenience. Don't like what they have on offer or even the idea of buying wine at Costco? Don't buy it. That would speak much more loudly than the outrage wine lovers might feel at the attitude of a buyer (who may or may not be a fan).
Once again, off the soapbox. :)
Keep on drinking!
Chris & Shannon