Crowdsource Question: Disrupting the Three Tier Model?

A forum for and about wine retailing. Consumer questions, retailer rants, etc. All are welcome to post
Post Reply
HZ Tarar
Posts: 9
Joined: November 29th, 2018, 2:02 pm

Crowdsource Question: Disrupting the Three Tier Model?

#1 Post by HZ Tarar » November 29th, 2018, 3:06 pm

Hello fellow wine geeks and hustlers,

After having lived in Europe for three years, I had a bit of a reverse culture shock moving back to the East Coast just over a year ago. No longer able to access the plentiful wines Europe has to offer at fair prices, I found myself investigating work arounds. Wine clubs were one option, but still too pricey. Trader Joe's has a few bargains, but those quickly grew stale. That's when I decided I'd simply import my favorite wines myself.

I created a small start-up and now have a TTB basic importers license and have lined up a logistics company and of course a producer in Italy I'll be buying my first order of Prosecco from.

Here's the question for the collective: are my only routes to follow the standard model and hunt for wholesaler/distributors to whom I can hawk my imports? To me this defeats the central purpose of doing this (I still have a day job mind you). I want to have inexpensive top notch wines without all the markup.

Here's my initial idea: partner with a local wine store and offer exclusive imports while focusing on the store's monthly wine club. This at least removes the distributor from the equation and gives my little start up a close partner to work with. Yes, I realize many small importers act as their own wholesalers as well. The difference here is an exclusive partnership with the retail outlet and the focus on working together to scout and import unique varietals and to respond quickly to changes in customer demand. We'd focus on direct to consumer sales as well.

If you, as a retailer, had such a proposition, would it be appealing? What am I missing? Is this entire idea a non starter? Volume of course will be an issue, we can't work with importing 200 bottles at a time.

I humbly request your thoughts.


H. Zed Tarar

Post Reply

Return to “Wine Pimps”