Wednesday, May 16, 2007

But what do you do?

in-store beer tasting at the Wine Specialist,
in downtown D.C.

... is a question I'm often asked. Answering "Territory Manager for Clipper City Brewing" can sound vague.

Direct sales - knocking on doors and asking store owners and restaurant managers to sell my beer in their establishments - is part of what I do, as is pouring samples for customers in beer stores.

But a more efficient - and greater slice - of my time is encouraging and assisting the sales forces of each of the wholesalers with which which the brewery has an agreement - and Clipper City has different wholesalers in 17 states - to effectively sell our beers.

After all, in how many stores, in how many bars, can I actually be? Clipper City has a sales force of only 2! Our distributors' sales forces become the realistic extensions of ours.

Monday and Tuesday, Clipper City's sales manager and I were visiting South Carolina to interview wholesalers.

As I've posted earlier, South Carolina recently changed its laws to allow beers of greater than 4.9% alcohol by weight to be sold. Thus, our Heavy Seas line of beers - ranging 7% to 11% alcohol by volume - may now be sold in the state.

Another very important consideration would be franchise laws.

The 21st Amendment to the US Constitution reserves to the states the right to regulate alcohol sales within their respective borders. And Some states mandate that wholesale/brewery contracts (and other suppliers of alcohol) be permanent.

When such a contract is signed, it stands almost irrevocable, like a marriage without an option for a divorce. The only exception - like a church-granted annulment -would be if both sides were to agree to amicably split, and the original wholesaler be awarded the equivalent of two or three years' gross sales. Obviously, the choice is not one to be made lightly.

South Carolina is such a franchise state - but only for beer, not for wine or spirits. Go figure! Thus, to use that hackneyed phrase: due diligence is required.

This truck was parked in the lot of the Columbia , S.C. motel in which we stayed.

All of the Republican party presidential candidates were in town to debate the issues later that evening.

Was the sign a reiteration of McCain's campaign slogan against President Bush or was it now being used against the Senator instead?

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