As we closed up the shop on December 24th, pulled down the shades, and finally took in that long-coveted sigh of relief, we congratulated each other on another successful year of holiday retail and a hard-fought month of intensive customer-oriented dedication. We had altered our schedules, our sleep patterns, and our personal lives on behalf of the K&L in-store experience. We had survived. As the adrenaline eventually wore off and the reality of a short vacation set it, one thing we agreed we needed to work harder on for 2017 was the way in which we presented our selection to general consumers. While those of you who have shopped here for years may be aware of the import business we do, the small producers we work with, the deals we make directly, and the savings we pass on to our customers as a result, not everyone who walks into a K&L location understands this. They see a wall of unfamiliar Champagne labels and they're put off by the lack of a recognizable face. They see shelves full of odd French Cognacs, none of which say Courvoisier or Hennessy. They think paying less for a no-name bottle of New Zealand pinot noir means they're getting an inferior product, when in reality they're cutting out the middleman and getting more bang for their buck. They don't understand how the importation game works, how distributors and sales groups take a big cut of the margin between them, the retailer, and the producer. But that's our hill to climb; it's our burden as a retailer and an importer. We need to better convey that concept. We hope to change that in 2017.
Next year, expect to understand exactly why thousands of our customers load up on Launois Champagne, hoard the Hepburn's Choice Scotch selections, and store cases of sangiovese from small Tuscan producers like La Fortuna, Barrici, and Sesta di Sopra. We're going to do a better job of explaining to you exactly what it is we do. And, believe it or not, it involves a heckuva lot more than meets the eye.