Saturday, March 26, 2005

A most unusual retailer

Garagiste sells wine. But not in the usual way. It began as a co-op about five years ago. Wines are sold one at a time by e-mail only, and the selection process for each wine depends entirely on Jon Rimmerman's taste.
He qualifies his offerings by subjecting them to rigorous scrutiny. In order for Garagiste to sell it, he explains, a wine must fit two or three spokes of criteria: "It has to be best of its type we can find in the world, issues of provenance have to be clear, and we have to be able to sell it at the lowest prices in the U.S."
Besides the steady stream of e-mail offers, Garagiste subscribers have access to an online blog, a drop-in retail space, an annual blow-out "garage sale" and exclusive wine dinners at trendy restaurants nationwide, all at remarkably reasonable prices.

The company is well-known among wine enthusiasts across the country. It has a niche and a strong brand identity based on product expertise and exclusivity.

Retail marketing isn't a staid, mature industry. You can be as innovative as you like ... in fact a well-implemented unusual business model has a better chance for success than just another storefront.


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