Do the best wine shops use shelf talkers?

Does the best wine shop in your area use shelftalkers?

  • No
  • Yes, with scores/notes from 3rd party sources (e.g. WS, WA, WE, etc.)
  • Yes, but with in-house generated content
  • Yes, with a mix of magazine scores and their own tasting notes

0 voters

Following up on an issue brought up in this thread , I’m curious to know about shelf talkers and how they play in the best retail shops.

“Best,” of course, can be defined in a great many ways, but for the purposes of this exercise, I’d like for you to think about the shops which have the most knowledgeable staff and the most interesting and diverse selections. You know, the kind of place where you’d say, “Those folks really know their stuff!”

This is not a question about sales volume; I think we can all agree that shelf talkers can help sell wine in many situations. Rather, this is a question about credibility, and whether or not there is any correlation between shelf talker use and perceived shop authority.

So, do shelf talkers help a retailer build credibility, or do they hinder it? Why?

Are you talking about shelf-talkers written by staff (“original material”) or cut-and-pasted Advocate/Spectator scores?
Most of my favorite shops do the former. As for the latter, I don’t have much respect for shops that have no sales strategy beyond leeching off critics’ material, but I don’t find shelf talkers nearly as bothersome as the email blasts that go right out and tell you you should buy the wine because it got X points, or that are so reliant on cut-and-pasted reviews it’s like reading an issue of the WA.

Since we sell so much stuff that people in the TRADE have never heard of, we HAVE to have signage on almost everything. BUT, we do it with a sense of humor and culture. Examples:

“Friends don’t let Friends drink Veuve Clicquot!”

“Neurologists will tell you that there are naturally occurring receptors for Marijuana and Cocaine in your brain. We’re pretty sure the one for Moscato d’Asti is right between them!”

"Meat and Dirt…Mmmmmmm Yummmy!
This wine has been made exclusively with Mazuelo grapes from Señorío de Sarría’s Vineyard N°8, a vineyard planted with goblet-pruned vines over 50 years old. The grapes are harvested manually when they reach just the right level of ripeness. Grape selection is carried out at the vines and then the fruit is given a traditional vinification that, with age, takes the last exit off the Dirt Road and heads directly into downtown Meatville. Got Offal?

"Vin Santo: Instructions for use:

  1. Get some quality Biscotti

  2. open this bottle with some friends

  3. dip cookies in wine till slightly soft

  4. enter La Dolce Vita…"

    "A Flavor / Terroir / Joy Singularity?
    Somehow, while a consortium of physicists is still building the world’s largest super collider in Switzerland, Giampaolo has managed to create a Black Hole in a bottle using only the sun, the unique terroir of Montefalco and minimalist cellar techniques. This makes our beloved Pigmento (which means “inky”) look like Kentish Pinot Noir and brings a fully stocked larder of flavors to your table: plums, dark cherries and prunes, earth and smoke, aged meat and an exotic spicy note in the background. Mmmm Mmmm GOOD!

Tabarrini Montefalco Sagrantino Colle Grimaldesco, Umbria"

"Tenuta Uccellina, Emilia-Romagna Cagnina di Romagna DOC 2001
This is a late harvest, slightly passito, insanely concentrated and fruitaceous Refosco (Cagnina is a local dialect name) with a smidge of other local varietals like Rabozo. Just on the edge of being a dessert wine, compare with late harvest Zins at $$$. Every chef who’s tasted it immediatly began foaming at the mouth about “duck sauce…no, wait…Venison with wild berries in a reduction of this and star anise…then poach some pears…”

I think that the best shops around me (Maryland) use a mix of professional and store generated shelf talkers. It is nice to get a mix. I really think they help customers and get them to try some new things.

My store uses a mix of both…maybe 25% written by me. I’m trying to slowly creep that up to highlight all the stuff that we bring in…the wines that make our store unique. Talk about the wine and why we liked it. Hopefully our customers agree.

When I go into other stores I read shelf talkers. It’s a good way to learn about new wines. Yes, 60% of it is flowery horseshit, but at least it is something to get me started.

We do not use them, and we are the best shop around! [d_training.gif]

I have no problem with stores using them, but many stores that use their own, do not know shit about wine.

Thanks for the ringing endorsement Dan…

you guys are funny. either works for me as long as it does not become spam like. Wine Club here in SF comes to mind.


Read “MANY” stores, not “ALL” stores…how could you sell Valtellina without some BS shelf talker? [dance2.gif]

That is why we are here, and not there. We just need Roberto to devote all of his time here. Then we would be rockin! [dance2.gif]

Mixed bag…I generally don’t like the look of them, especially in a shop like mine. It cheapens the atmosphere. Having said that, customer feedback has been that they do like them and it helps in making purchasing decisions a little easier, especially for people who don’t like to interact with a salesperson on the floor. In Dan’s case, I am shocked he wouldn’t use them, as he hates people and that would give him an even greater chance of not having to talk to anybody. [wow.gif]

Hey now, knock Roberto if you must, but don’t knock Valtellina! [drinkers.gif]

Max, due to our colorful (often including photos or graphics), informative and FUNNY signage, the “hangtime” and of our customers has got to be at least 25% longer. And, the signs initiate questions:

“What is Lardo di Colonatta? It sounds so delicious…” “No, really, you’re kidding with the pig fat aged in marble coffins bit…right?”

“WHY don’t friends let friends drink Veuve Clicquot?”

We are easily the biggest culprits of fluffy emails, and we do use shelf talkers on rated items. However, all of our Point of Sale: signs, shelf talkers, case cards, etc., are all done in house, and are a click away. The uniformity helps “uncheapen” them, and we also don’t use tape to put them up, but a flag-ish system where they are attached to a plastic clip that fits in the shelf.

To Max’s point, they aren’t used as a sales tactic, but as a guide for the consumer that doesn’t want a salesmans’ help (or woman, we now have 2 on staff).

Quite often, they get taken by customers, whom I think are storing the review along with the wine!

I am OFTEN asked to print out copies of ours (without the price) to put in with gifts…

That is why I hire employees, Max.

Max saw where I bury myself each day yesterday. Jorge came by today though and after he went through the metal detector, was allowed to enter my office, without the glock supplied by Jay Miller.

Max, What do your Yellowtail shelftalkers say?

My Yellow Tail shelftalkers say…“buy at your own risk…and don’t ask any questions!”