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Whisky Gouging in Stores (venting)

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@Onibubba
Onibubba started a discussion

Just got back from a day of whisky shopping in Nashville. One store I (used to) frequent had their Yamazaki 18 priced at 116.00 two weeks ago. This morning, it was off the usual shelf and moved to behind the counter for 179.00. The guy working there did not know what was up.

I think I do. I understand if the price goes up on a product the next time you stock it, but to just raise your price based on something you've read on line may not be the good business you think it is.

For instance, you just lost me as a customer. I spend a lot of money on whisky. If I feel I am being taken advantage of, I will shop elsewhere. Hope someone buys that bottle. Won't be me.

And BTW, I spent over 400.00 today, all of it in other stores because of one poor pricing decision.

11 years ago

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Replies: page 1/2

@valuewhisky
valuewhisky replied

A great "insider's" blog is at spiritsjournal.klwines.com. It is written by the spirits buyer at a nice whisky shop in California. Yes, his goal is to sell stuff. But, I get the impression that he is truthful and honest - he just has the opinion of a whisky retailer. He has written lots of articles recently about price hikes. I recommend you browse the blog when you have some free time (and a glass of whisky!). He's a very good writer to boot, so it's got entertainment value.

11 years ago 0

@Onibubba
Onibubba replied

Very familiar with K&L and Dave's Spirits Journal. Always informative and entertaining. And I do get the feeling that he LOVES what he does and has a special love for whisky. Not so sure about your average city liquor store though.

I may not like a price hike, but at least I understand it. What I do not understand is when you have a bottle in your store. You have already bought it from your distributor. You have already priced it. Then, when you hear you could sell it for more, you just raise the price. A lot.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@SMC
SMC replied

Seriously just be happy you can easily shop elsewhere. There are a lot of people that live in countries/provinces/states where you have to put up with whatever prices the government liquor monopoly decides.

11 years ago 6Who liked this?

Rigmorole replied

Oregon has price controls. All prices are the same state wide. The OLCC is very "hands on" when it comes to regulation. Still, this has its advantages. I bought a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 20 YO for $130. The only reason the price was so long was because of price controls. I had to wait in line for two hours and I just got lucky that day (woke up with premonition the shipment had come in [over a three month window]) and happened to be right. I had called the store during those three months four times. They always said they never knew when it would come in. Anyhow, I woke up sure they were getting the shipment one morning, called them, found out "yes" from the clerk, and then sped down to the store in my PJ's. That would never have happened in a non regulated state. The bottle would have been put on the shelf for twice that price (or more) or sold to the customer (always bars) that bought the most bottles from the liquor store over the past year.

11 years ago 0

@WhiskyNotes
WhiskyNotes replied

Don't just blaim the shop. Yamazaki 18 is one the whiskies I know with the biggest price difference between shops. It's not easily available either, which doesn't help to keep steady prices - they may have received the news that they won't see new stock any time soon.

Of course I don't know the actual shop, maybe they're doing this all the time for all sorts of bottlings, it's just that I've had similar experiences with Yamazaki 18 and I live in a totally different part of the world...

11 years ago 3Who liked this?

@lmann86
lmann86 replied

@Onibubba Same thing happened to the Yamazaki 18 here in Saint Louis. $50-$60 price hike...and the bottles haven't moved from the shelves. Glad I purchased my bottle when it cost $95!!

11 years ago 2Who liked this?

OldJas replied

As a consumer, I think this is something you just have to expect and combat -- as much as possible -- with smart choices and comparison shopping.

Sellers will sell an item for the most they can get. That's their purpose.

If you're interested in economics, you might want to look up the concept of the "buyer's surplus" and the ways that sellers try to capture more of that.

If you can't understand why a store would increase the price on a bottle that they've long since bought and paid for, consider what price you yourself would expect to get for an unopened bottle of (say) Arbeg Very Young that you bought way back when. The market value has quadrupled since you bought it for $40. Do you sell it today for $45? Or do you expect $160? (I'm just making up those figures by the way.)

To put a postive spin on all this, from the consumer's perspective: If you buy a bottle of whisky (or anything, of course) for certain amount of money, that means you value the bottle more than the money you exchanged for it. Otherwise, you wouldn't have made that trade. So you always win! (In this model, you have to leave aside scenarios in which you take a chance on a new bottle and find that it's not worthwhile.) Personally, I think that's one of the great insights into market economies that nobody appreciates.

Cheers,

Ol' Jas

11 years ago 3Who liked this?

@cowfish
cowfish replied

This has popped up over on the Malt Maniacs facebook group and I'll stick my oar in here as well on behalf of the retailers.

This is the time of year when we get hit with price increases by the distributors, so it's when lots of whisky prices rise at the consumer end of things. As such it's not surprising that you saw the price make a big jump - the store probably just got hit with it as well.

It could be that in between your last two visits they sold out of the stock they'd bought at the old price and applied the new price; it could be that they only just got invoiced for the stock and realised it had gone up after it had been put on the shelf; it could, of course, just be that now the price has gone up they just raised the price on all of their stock, old and new, and therefore are just doing a bit of 'gouging' (even if it's just because they don't run decent enough stock control to know when they run out of bottles that they bought at the old price).

The big thing to remember is that retailers are also just customers, however we don't get much of a choice on where to shop and thus can't avoid price changes anywhere near as easily as a consumer.

11 years ago 5Who liked this?

@Onibubba
Onibubba replied

Just to be clear, I was talking about one store. One particular case. I am talking about raising the price of bottles that are already in the store - not new stock coming in. And sure, it is their right to do that. Just as it is my right to shop somewhere else.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@alteredstate
alteredstate replied

Sorry to hear about your bad store experience. I got a few Talisker 18 at $70 at my local shop until it sold out. (thanks to me). I go back this week and new stock is now priced now $118. I hadn't realized that stores can raise prices on existing stock like that. Good to know as I am knew to the whisky world. Also, thanks to you all for heads up on the yamazaki going up as i will grab one asap! Hmm...maybe we can start a price alert thread of some sort on connosr...

11 years ago 0

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh replied

I personally can see both sides of the issue. I've had times where I went to buy a bottle of whisky or craft beer between one day and the next and there's been a large price hike (this is usually with specific stores for the record) and talking to the owners/managers I've been informed it's because they've heard that everyone is sold out and there'll be no further imports for the next 3/4/5/6+ months and why not take advantage of it. These stores I no longer shop at.

That being said my wife's family runs a convenience store, when the suppliers raise their prices, our family needs to raise ours, otherwise we start operating in the red. However we'll get lots of customers yelling, cussing, bitching at us that last week milk was $2 and now it's $2.25 and man we're trying to rip them off. Nothing pisses me off quicker then that. We don't have the negotiating power of the big chain stores, so therefore we can't get the great deals that the bigger stores can because they're ordering 10,000 cases of milk, we can order 2 and to have people expect our prices to stay the same and be the same as the bigger stores is nothing short of infuriating.

So like I said I personally can see both sides of the issue here and from both sides I'm pretty pissed off hahaha :D

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@DaveM
DaveM replied

Count your lucky stars on the Yamazaki 18yo. I went into a liquor store in Maryland last week and they had this bottle on sale for $195. I nearly choked! I distinctly remember this same whiskey in this exact same store selling for around $125 last year. I am trying out buying from Master of Malt in Scotland. The prices seem reasonable and the shipping isn't too bad. You just need to buy multiple bottles to make it worth your time and effort.

11 years ago 0

@cowfish
cowfish replied

@DaveM Master of Malt is about as far away from Scotland as you can get in the UK without falling into the English Channel :)

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@DaveM
DaveM replied

Cowfish, I see you are right. Master of Malt is in East Sussex, UK at the southern tip. No matter, they offer better prices than where I live in Pennsylvania-US. The state government controls the liquor stores here. The prices aren't that cheap and the liquor/Scotch selection is very poor. They have you at their mercy.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@cowfish
cowfish replied

@DaveM I work for a rival retailer to MoM (TWE are obviously much better :) ) and keep a close eye on the US market - some of you folks have it tough when it comes to booze.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Onibubba
Onibubba replied

I saw a signature on Straightbourbon.com that said, in essence, it will never be cheaper that it is now. This is one of the primary reasons that I "hoard" and bunker my whisky. I am going to drink it. Why not buy it now? It's not like the prices are going to miraculously drop. That is why I have several bottles of non-discontinued whiskies that I like. What, they are going to be less expensive next year?

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@lmann86
lmann86 replied

Bunnahabhain 25 just went from $229 up to $399 overnight! Same bottles sitting on the shelf! CRAZY!

11 years ago 0

@systemdown
systemdown replied

@lmann86 Crazy indeed.. I can get a 40 year old Bunnahabhain (DT Lonach) locally for AUD $169. Long live the indie bottlings!

11 years ago 0

@Bigtuna
Bigtuna replied

That sums up North Carolina abc stores, how else can we pay the abc board members a 6 figure salery for something that sels itself?

11 years ago 0

dramkiller replied

Onibubba, Same thing here in Oklahoma with the Yamazaki 18. 65.00 in one day and none in the warehouses in OK. I ran into Mike Miyomoto from Suntory this month and asked him what was up with the Yamazaki 18. He said "we simply did not know it was going to sell like it did, we did not lay enough down". If you like it, buy it, at any price. With the 25 being released this fall it will be awhile before the 18's reappear.

11 years ago 0

@Onibubba
Onibubba replied

@dramkiller Sooo...A 900.00 (ish) dollar whisky will be available instead of a 150.00(ish) dollar bottle of whisky. Seems reasonable. Goodbye Yamazaki. It was nice hanging out with you, but I'm seeing a 15 year old Yoichi now.

11 years ago 2Who liked this?

@PeatyZealot
PeatyZealot replied

Why dont you go online? Almost every bottle of whisy is cheaper on the net, even including the shipping costs. More choice, more discounts, steadier prices and no shopowners trying to pick the meat of your bones!

11 years ago 2Who liked this?

@Bourbondork
Bourbondork replied

@Onibubba That would be my quote. Silverfish uses it in his signature line. My line is "it's never cheaper than it is today." I believe that to be true always which is why I buy whiskey in multiples when I can. I just jumped in on the Karuizawa (2 bottles) that K&L just offered pre-sales. It's another reason why I go to KY every April and with a group of like minded bourbon enthusiasts, select multiple barrels of bourbon and rye. I do hoard but not to collect but to drink well far into retirement.

11 years ago 0

@Onibubba
Onibubba replied

@PeatyZealot Oh I most definately shop online. Shipping varies from state to state, but I do find a lot of bargains. Still, I like shopping in physical stores, and I like supporting local businesses.

Mostly, I'm just venting because a favored dram has been priced out of my comfort zone. One week you can afford something, the next week you absolutely cannot. That's frustrating. Whatever the reason, when a price increase is not a gradual slope, but rather a punch in the gut, one cannot help but feel a little betrayed and a little angry. Nice to just blow off steam, yeah ;)

11 years ago 0

@FMichael
FMichael replied

@PeatyZealot Spot on post...Wine searcher . com is our friend by providing us with a plethora of retailers...Just remember that buying 3, or more really drops the shipping charges.

11 years ago 0

@lmann86
lmann86 replied

@FMichael shop.whiskybase.com has a lot of great bottles...and three is the magic number. shipping jumps if you order four or more

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@systemdown
systemdown replied

@lmann86 I love the interesting IBs they have.. great range, great prices etc. Definitely my "go to" online store if I'm looking for something exciting.

11 years ago 0

@FMichael
FMichael replied

Stopped by a liquor store that had the anCnoc 12 yr to see if they had gotten any more in...No such luck...Was checking the prices of other single malts when my jaw dropped; Balvenie 15 yr for $83...Glad I picked up a few bottles last week at a rival store for $55 each.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@lmann86
lmann86 replied

@FMichael Balvenie has raised their prices across the board. Still a local shop with the 15 for $65. Used to be $55. Most other shops are atleast $79 now. Found the Portwood in a small shop for $139 recently. I've seen that one as high as $239

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Onibubba
Onibubba replied

@FMichael It's frackin' insane the Balvenie 15. And I have found, to boot, older bottlings are way better (pre 2009 in the bottle or there abouts). I am hoping that the new 12 year fills this honeyed dram sweet spot at a fraction of the price. Sadly, have not seen it available in the SE US as of now.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

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