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View Full Version : A Liquor store that won't sell you what you want?



bourbonNOOG
09-29-2010, 15:55
Here's the deal... I was traveling home this afternoon from my company's manufacturing facility in Fort Payne, AL. On the way back I figured I would utilize the Garmin and locate some stores to hit in hopes of finding something I wouldn't normally be able to purchase in Chattanooga, TN (my hometown).

On my third stop, I happened upon a place called Valley Spirits about 10 miles outside of Chattanooga. I walked into the store and was greeted by an older gentleman in his early to late 70's. He asked me if he could help I told him I was just browsing, but thanks. He walked away. As I admired the selection I noticed that it was nothing unusual, until I got over to the freezer where they kept the Champagne and chilled wines. Above the freezer were several interesting items. 4-5 Elvis Beam decanters as well as several pretty amazing liter oversized older Jack Daniel's containers. There was also an older bottled in bond bourdon that looked to be about 60 years old as well as an Evan Williams single barrel from 1988. I was only interested in the EWSB 1988.

I walked up to the counter and asked to speak to the owner. The guy at the cashier politely replied "That's me." I asked if any of the items on top of the freezer were for sale and he kind of laugher and said "NO." So I walked out.

So... has anyone else encountered a liquor store where you wanted to buy something but it wasn't for sale? I assumed the person who owned the place would want to sell everything in the store, why else would it be there. Otherwise, why not just keep it at home?

SMOWK
09-29-2010, 16:19
So... has anyone else encountered a liquor store where you wanted to buy something but it wasn't for sale? I assumed the person who owned the place would want to sell everything in the store, why else would it be there. Otherwise, why not just keep it at home?

There's one store that I visit every so often that usually carries most of the Van Winkle line. They have a bottle of ORVW 10/107 that has been sitting on the shelf above the register for quite a few years now. I've asked every clerk that I've seen if it's for sale, and they all say no. I suggested to "scan it, if it rings up, you should be able to sell it to me". As well as the ol' "how about fifty bucks" method, to no avail. I'm starting to wonder if it's Lawrenceburg juice inside, but I can't make it out (you would need a ladder to grab it).

The last time I was in there I believe the response from the cashier was, "Man, those guys love that stuff and I haven't seen the 10yr since last year in Chicago. You would have to offer me Pappy 23 numbers to consider it." Go figure.

Joshua
09-29-2010, 16:23
Yea, it's pretty common to have stores that absolutely refuse to sell certain things.

Special Reserve
09-29-2010, 16:40
I've run into stores that wanted a ridiculous amount for old decanters essentially making them stock that they will never move.

I've run into dusties that were no longer in the book and they guessed at a price. When that happened it was usually to my benefit. If it isn't I just do buy.

smokinjoe
09-29-2010, 16:49
Yep, I've encountered that a few times. It's usually the mom & pop store, and those items are "pops special display pieces". It might not hurt to stop in from time to time, and build up some rapport. Later on, shoot him a number, and maybe he'll let it go. I have a store that I hit a couple of times each year, and "pops" has a couple of bottles of Lem Motlow on "display". All super dusty and tempting to me every time I walk in. Been on him for 5 years to sell, but he won't let them go. I'll keep trying, though. :D

Skunk
09-29-2010, 17:25
I walked up to the counter and asked to speak to the owner. The guy at the cashier politely replied "That's me." I asked if any of the items on top of the freezer were for sale and he kind of laugher and said "NO." So I walked out.


You'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

There is some medicinal in a store around here that's NFS yet temptingly in the same glass case as pappy 23 etc. I've asked 2/3 times but neither honey nor vinegar is getting that one out of there.

MrAtomic
09-29-2010, 19:41
This isn't quite the same, but there's a nearby store with a bottle of WT RR 101 that's been on the shelf for at least 6 years. It's for sale, but the woman who runs the store insists that it's worth $90. It's become a kind of ritual to stop by every once in a while, chat with her for a minute, and then have my reasonable offer turned down.

ErichPryde
09-30-2010, 01:20
I've encountered a bunch of places like this. the build up a rapport method works very well and I've had to use it more times than I can remember, and on a couple of occasions, it's gotten me into the backroom-goldmine situation.

MJL
09-30-2010, 03:40
I have encountered this too. I have never been able to crack the wall either, nor do I usually have the time to sugar talk a business person to conduct business with me. I have been known to walk out with $300 or more of booze at a time. If that is not enough sugar talk I tend to start throwing stuff back up onto the shelf in front of them. That tends to make them much more willing to do business with me....

bourbonNOOG
09-30-2010, 06:24
I understand where you guys are coming, but if I'm there with money and I'm willing to buy, throw out a number and see what happens. I'm not going to sit there and haggle with you over something you think is obviously worth more than fair market value at the time.

Oh well, I guess they can sit on it for another 20 or so years. Eventually it probably won't be worth anything. It's just my opinion but if it were me and I owned a store that was in the business of selling spirits then I would want items like that to go to someone who will appreciate them.

sailor22
09-30-2010, 07:23
I have been hunting in really rural back road tiny stores for a couple years now. It's not unusual to find a top shelf full of decanters and other "collectibles". They are typically the owners personal collection and usually they aren't for sale. Or if they are the asking price is laughably high. Since decanters aren't on my radar any longer it doesn't bother me. More importantly my experience at this one place taught me to just respect their decision not to sell.

It was a tiny shop that on the outskirts of a small town that was mostly boarded up and was clearly on hard times. A really friendly old guy ran the place. I was surprised to see a good line up of pre-pro juice mixed in with the decanters. The owner explained that they had been set aside by his dad who sold whiskey before prohibition and he had put them on display on the top shelf when he opened this shop. Through the years he had added decanters (Beam, Elvis Hoffman etc.) and a few bottles. He was surprisingly knowledgeable about whiskey and enjoyed hearing about the changes in the modern Bourbon market. After an hour or more of an enjoyable discussion on Bourbon and life in general I asked if he would sell me the bottles that weren't decanters. He looked at me with a gentle smile and said "Son, I'm 74 years old and that shelf is all I have to show for runnin this shop for my entire life, so no they aren't for sale"

"You know they are just evaporating, only half of them are any good now, and an empty bottle ain't worth nothin" I replied.

He turned and looked up at the dusty shelf for a few minutes then replied slowly "Yeah, I hate to see em drying up, but that's just how things go." An uncomfortable silence followed and the fact that they were a metaphor on his life in that now nearly deserted small town wasn't lost on either of us. Both of us just stared at the shelf for a long time. Finally he tuned to me and with a tear in his eye said "Gimme your number and if I change my mind I'll call you". I hope he never calls.

BigRich
09-30-2010, 07:25
I understand where you guys are coming, but if I'm there with money and I'm willing to buy, throw out a number and see what happens. I'm not going to sit there and haggle with you over something you think is obviously worth more than fair market value at the time.

Oh well, I guess they can sit on it for another 20 or so years. Eventually it probably won't be worth anything. It's just my opinion but if it were me and I owned a store that was in the business of selling spirits then I would want items like that to go to someone who will appreciate them.

I'm with you. Either they are going to sell it or not. I don't have the time to work them so that they think I'm worthy of selling to.

kickert
09-30-2010, 07:33
A lot of times the owners have those bottles as trophies/decoration and little more. So, when you are haggling, it is less like trying to purchase product and more like trying to buy their curtains.

kickert
09-30-2010, 09:49
He turned and looked up at the dusty shelf for a few minutes then replied slowly "Yeah, I hate to see em drying up, but that's just how things go." An uncomfortable silence followed and the fact that they were a metaphor on his life in that now nearly deserted small town wasn't lost on either of us. Both of us just stared at the shelf for a long time. Finally he tuned to me and with a tear in his eye said "Gimme your number and if I change my mind I'll call you". I hope he never calls.

Puts it all in perspective. It is all just fermented corn juice... there are a lot of things much more important.

CorvallisCracker
09-30-2010, 09:53
I've encountered a bunch of places like this. the build up a rapport method works very well and I've had to use it more times than I can remember, and on a couple of occasions, it's gotten me into the backroom-goldmine situation.

Like, what, a case of Crow Light?

Halifax
09-30-2010, 11:33
I am experiencing the same thing with an older store owner who has somehwere in the neighborhood of 150 bottles of quality bourbon from the 60s, 70s & 80s, and another 30ish or so of sealed decanters. I may have an opportunity come spring of next year, or so I am told. I guess I'll cross that bridge when the time comes. In the meantime I'll keep my fingers crossed.

sgtgto
09-30-2010, 18:46
Happens to me all the time. Usually for decanters. It hurts, but sometimes you just have to walk away.

OscarV
09-30-2010, 19:57
Hey, whatta ya gonna do?
They are retailers,...'nuff said.

jsbac
09-30-2010, 20:41
There's a store about an hour from where I live that has two OC12 bottles that I try to buy every time I go in. The bottles are behind the register on a shelf. I like OC12, but I really want to buy them as a present for my Dad when he retires in four months.

I haven't given up yet. I figure if I stop by 2x day for the next 4 months they'll sell them just to get rid of them. :lol:

jburlowski
10-01-2010, 10:58
A lot of times the owners have those bottles as trophies/decoration and little more. So, when you are haggling, it is less like trying to purchase product and more like trying to buy their curtains.

Well put. I see this often in smaller, independent stores.

PaulO
10-01-2010, 14:19
I guess you have to ask yourself if maybe just getting to see some cool stuff makes it worth going into a place? Offer what you are willing to pay. You can leave your card if it's not for sale at that time.

tommyboy38
10-05-2010, 08:00
There's a lot of stores out there that act like that. There have been more than a few bottles that I've left behind after I feel like the owner/employee doesn't seem to care if I buy their bottles or not. I usually tell them I'll be back in 10 or 20 more years and maybe I'll buy them then.
There was one woman who eventually did sell to me but it probably took 10 minutes just for her to grab the bottles of the shelf. She couldn't figure out for the life of her why someone would buy 4 bottles of whiskey at once.:lol: 4? that's child's play!
I've also been toying with the idea of buying some dusties and telling them they're worth 10 times what I paid for them because they're so old.:lol:

smokinjoe
10-05-2010, 09:10
I ran into a store in town that had several dozen dusties (SW 90 proof RY, Pennsylvania OO, etc) on the floor behind the counter. The proprieters of the store were a younger Asian couple, so there was a bit of a language problem, as they spoke pretty broken English. I asked them to show me the bottles, and that I wanted to buy them. They said they wouldn't sell them, because they were old and "bad". "These no good. Bad. No sell." They honestly believed they had gone bad because they were old, and didn't want to deal with an unhappy customer. I insisted, and after a few minutes of a very animated conversation between them in what I guessed was Korean, they relented, but, with the caveat: "You no bring back! You no like, you no bring back. No refund." I thanked them, smiled, and assured them, "No sir, these won't be coming back...but, I'll be back eventually for the rest!"

MJL
10-10-2010, 05:07
I guess if it boils down to gravy it looks something like this: The big liquor stores and chains usually have a pretty good grasp on their stock and on business practices so they do not allow bottles to sit around too long. It is the little guy whose business practices are not something that might be taught at Harvard School of Business and who has an incomplete understanding of their stock who actually are responsible for all of the old bottles seen at retail outlets. These little guys are quirky. Many are in the liquor business for motives other than pure profit and thus we are often compelled to accept their excentricities for the rewards they may provide to us.

squire
12-17-2010, 23:41
It has happened to me but there is usually a sign stating 'display only not for sale'.

darkluna
12-21-2010, 16:25
Think of it this way. If these retailers were going to sell these unusual items/display pieces, they would've been gone long before you walked through their doors.

squire
12-21-2010, 19:27
That's my take on it Chris. One store owner allowed as he believed the display made his current wares look better, as in, you can't have that but you can get this which is just as good.

fishnbowljoe
03-29-2011, 15:50
This was a small store I checked out in Key West while on vacation. They would sell you stuff, but you had to look through the half door and tell them what you wanted to see, then they would get it for you to look at. They had a couple of dark top WTKS, but I passed. FWIW, my wife took the picture and thought it was funny. I think so too. :lol: Cheers! Joe

squire
03-29-2011, 20:52
That's just Key West. That window usually opens onto a sidewalk and customers bicycle up. I saw one guy show up on skates.