retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

I do like it when a retailer demonstrates that it knows how to throw a party.

As you may know, last Friday marked the first time since Prohibition that a state - in this case, Washington - went from state controlled to privatized liquor sales.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported that "customers lined up Friday at retail stores across Washington to buy spirits for the first time outside state-run stores, and retailers highlighted their liquor deals with full-page newspaper ads, radio spots, banners and special events.

Now, there have been some controversies. There are some retailers who have complained that big retailers are getting better selection than smaller businesses. Pricing is said to be inconsistent - sometimes lower, sometimes higher, and sometimes pretty much the same as they used to be.

I did love the marketing event that was thrown by Metropolitan Markets, which had a midnight party at its 1st and Mercer store in Seattle, from 11 pm to 2 am, offering a sampling of craft spirits-infused appetizers and then, after 12 am, a big reveal of the store's new spirits department which is designed to offer what was called the "best tasting, best crafted" selections.

This isn't enormously surprising - after all, it has long been my contention that Metropolitan Markets is one of the best independent food retailers in the country, expert at celebrating food in a way that a lot of other retailers do not.

But it is always worth noting when a retailer does something unusual and fun, and takes the notion of competition to the next level.

"Compete," as we're fond of saying around here, is a verb. It means action. And it is always both eye-opening and satisfying when we see smart retailers engage in actions that make them better and are relevant to their customers.
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