In Praise of Total Wine & More

One of the most significant sales milestones for Batch 22 in 2023 was securing Total Wine & More as a new account. Initially accepted into 32 California locations, we immediately gained major access to markets from San Diego to Sacramento.

The benefits of being on the shelves at Total Wine are many, but so are the responsibilities. With that kind of broad distribution, we are obligated to work hard at supporting our end of the deal. That means promoting Batch 22 in each of those locations and doing everything in our power to make sure bottles are moving off the shelves.

One of the best ways to promote Batch 22 and move product is to visit each store and to host customer demos. Recently, we road-tripped from San Diego/Los Angeles up north to the Bay Area, where we stopped into seven locations. We introduced ourselves to managers, provided samples for staff education, put our shelf talkers in place, and—at three locations—did three-hour demos for customers.

Customer demos with spirits at Total Wine present something of a unique challenge to folks who make aquavit (or any other "hard alcohol"). That's because Total Wine has not yet secured the licensing to do "wet demos" in California. That's right. If you want to give a customer a sense of your spirit, all you can do is spray a bit of it into a cup with an atomizer and offer a sniff. And yes, that's a challenge.

Needless to say, the atomizer procedure leaves a lot to be desired, but it does still manage to sway a good many people. More than you'd think. Even with offering just a spray of Batch 22, we managed to sell through the inventory on each store's shelf and delivered another 2 cases to each location. If we had been able to pour our usual 1/4-ounce pours (as we do at most events) we're convinced our numbers would have at least been tripled. But such is the challenge of working within the California liquor-control system.

More than anything else, our success rate proved the enduring appeal of Batch 22. Just about all of the people we met had never heard of aquavit, much less tasted it. And most of the ones who had previous experience didn't have a very good impression of it. Given all that—and the fact the Batch is a flavor most folks haven't ever tasted—our sales numbers made us quite proud.

We have to take the opportunity here to also praise Total Wine & More as an organization. Not only are the stores exceptionally efficient and well run, they are admirably customer focused and very effective at helping customers find what they want. The company's interactions with us (and we assume with vendors in general) have been very respectful and supportive—as a whole, Total Wine is remarkably easy to do business with.

We look forward to building our relationship with Total Wine as we plan our expansion into other regions. With more than 260 locations around the United States, there's plenty of work still to be done!

We will be doing customer demos at a number of Los Angeles and San Diego locations between now and the end of the month. Go to our website for specifics on stores locations and hours.