Randy, (My boss at The Wine Country) walked up to my desk the other day with a stack of papers in his hand and he pulled a chair around to sit next to me....when Randy pulls a chair around or calls you to his office and asks that you, "Take a seat" it is usually not the best news. Randy has a very hands off approach to letting his buyers run their departments. He trusts us to make the right choices and even when we didn't he stands back and lets us try and make the adjustments necessary to turn things around. He gives us a very long rope and only steps in when we are hanging ourselves. So when he swung that chair around and I heard the screech of the metal legs drag across the concrete floor I felt the noose around my throat.
I knew instinctively that he was worried about my Champagne department. I'm the buyer, I know that even though we had record sales after our last Champagne class for the most part the over all sales in my little bubble world have been in the crapper. I walk in the store after a couple days off and there they all are, right where I left them...."What is the deal" I mutter to myself. How can such a lovely and pleasurable wine be forgotten so quickly? Now I know that the prices have gone way up over the past couple years, wines that were forty dollars are now sixty and truth be told there is no end in sight. World demand for these wines along with the sorry excuse we call a dollar, (and please put the blame where it belongs....stop whining about the damn Euro. The value of the US dollar has dropped over 45% in the past 5 years.....) and increased fuel prices have all played a part in driving prices up.
Randy and I went back and forth debating what the issue might be and while I do understand that higher prices will slow things down, you might buy one bottle instead of two but there was one thing nagging away at me while we sat there trying to figure out what was going on......Sparkling wine was down too.
Now if in fact the only motivator was money then wouldn't the less expensive bubbly still be plugging along, or for that matter might they have seen a bump in sales as people longing for bubbles opted for a Prosecco, Cava or Cremant? No...it just doesn't add up! To prove my point I selected some Champagnes and dramatically reduced their prices, sent out an email blast about the sale and.....there they sit, right where I left them.
I am fully convinced that there is an overwhelming sense of, "Nothing to celebrate" going on. We are told day in a day out that all the news is bad news and projected numbers ain't any better...sigh. "Woo Hoo Gas is going to $4.00 a gallon, let the corks fly!" not too likely huh? I understand and I too find myself wincing and shifting in my seat when I read these things, it pretty much sucks but while there are stinky things I cant control there are some things that I can.....I'm tired of feeling bummed out people, aren't you?!
So if it is going to cost me more to fill the gas tank to go visit a Friend I will stay longer, talk longer, laugh longer. If produce is going to cost more I will settle for nothing but the best, things in season, organic and savor them in their perfect state. If a bottle of Champagne is going to be more expensive I will taste each sip, let each tiny bubble dance across my palate and embrace the pleasure that each glass gives me.......things are looking up already!
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