Judging from the feedback I hear from sales reps and brand vendors in the business, we're a pretty easy account to deal with for distribution companies – especially liquor. I wouldn't know for sure, however, because I've never worked for another retailer outside of K&L, and I don't even know anyone who works in another store. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we're never worried about the other guy. Personally, I have no idea what other shops are selling, what their prices are, or what special deals they're offering. I don't keep tabs on the competition and I don't have time to worry about anyone but ourselves (which is already enough to worry about). All I know is based off of what I hear from the vendors who travel from store to store and they always tell me how relieved they are to finally be at K&L.
Sales reps like to gossip a little bit, so I'll usually pick up a fun tidbit about the Bay Area liquor industry while I'm putting in an order or tasting a new product. Apparently, the hot story right now on the scene is us: the K&L spirits department. And when I say "hot" I mean hot with anger, agitation, and annoyance. "You know everyone hates you, right?" one vendor told me the other day. "Me?" I said shocked. "I don't even know anyone! How do they know who I am and what did I ever do to them?" Another rep told me that every time he goes into a certain store they have our webpage up and they scream at him to match pricing while complaining about specialty items. "Are you serious?" I said, laughing out of disbelief. "It's terrible," he replied. One director of marketing told me last week that another store called me "the devil" while she was tasting with them. "How did that even come up?" I asked, half-smiling. "They always bring it up. You're the bane of their existence, offering an exciting lineup of new products at good prices, and it's making them upset," she said.
If some stores hate K&L because they're jealous, or because we're giving them stiff competition, then I'm totally fine with that! That just means we're doing our job well. However, if gaining more recognition from the consumer marketplace is going to piss people off, then I can't wait to see what happens later this year when David OG and I roll out a new super secret project. I'm actually picking him up at the airport in a few hours to start working on it and it's going to be interesting to see where it leads. If it works out like we hope it will, then I think you'll be really excited by the result. And if pushing your job to new limits means that people are going to hate you for it, then we're going to be the two most hated spirits buyers in the world when the news hits. We're going to be absolutely despised.