The Society is for the benefit of all shareholders not just for those who live in easy reach of Stevenage. It is not a normal retail outlet so why should there be a display room which no doubt cost a vast amount of money. There is a list, there are online lists so I feel there is no justification to have a local retail display area for locals.
So should the society close the showroom then? Or just display a small selection of what you can get online or from the list?
I live a long way from Stevenage and I don’t drive, but I’m fairly relaxed about there being a showroom which I’m unlikely to ever use. Its part of the W/S property anyway (I think) so I don’t think there will be much extra cost, and like other retailers its a way of selling tiny amounts of wines and a place for events etc.
The Great Wine Company in Bath (formerly Great Western Wines), Laithwaites in Theale near Reading and Averys in Bristol all have the same, and in Averys case the selection is far more interesting than what you see online.
I’ve not been to the other showrooms, but can definitely second the Avery’s comment. It’s also underground so is a fun place to visit. I far prefer Berry’s shop to their online presence too. No BBX search results and the ability to buy by the bottle.
Sometimes there are tastings that I’d like to attend, but they’re too far away. That’s life. I wouldn’t want to deprive others of the opportunity though.
Some members have complained about wines selling out before they have the opportunity to buy. Not everyone can monitor the site regularly. I don’t think anyone would suggest that the Society should only sell wines when they can guarantee to meet demand, in order to be fair.
It would be interesting to know how many wines are available only in the showroom.
I don’t have any particular issue with it’s existence. I live about as far away as is possible (barring those living abroad) but have visited it in passing. It offers no particular advantage to locals and is only a tiny space in their very extensive office and warehouse space there, so I shouldn’t think it represents any significant overhead. My only (very small) grumble is the bin ends. But I do understand that the admin overheads of offering them online would be considerable. To expect the pickers to fish out orders from an assortment of odd left overs and also sell them at a significant discount is simply not practical. Whereas the Mystery cases have proved a very good technique for levelling up that particular issue. (apologies for the use of the much overused catch phrase).
Oh yes, haven’t been there in yonks. Have they still got that massive cage to house the Precious Things?
Other than the bin ends I don’t think there are any that are exclusive to the shop. In fact I think there are probably many that aren’t in there; I don’t think they have the space to display the entire range. It’s really not that big a space.
The idea for the fine room was to sell wines where we had tiny quantities of wine, approximately 18 bottles or less, that were too small to list. With the move to internet sales I suppose these could be sold on the web, but we can equally incur the wrath of members when such wines sell too quickly.
Yes Berry’s shop is worth a visit even if you don’t like wine.
We are pretty lucky in Bristol to have a number of good wine retailers, Averys, Grape and Grind, Clifton Wine Cellars and my (equal) favourites Corks of Cotham and DBM wines in Clifton (Richard Davis and Aidan Bell are ex Averys colleagues of mine)
I’m sure there wouldn’t be any complaints if there were a show room close to every member, however, that’s impractical and in the interest of being empathic and generally excited for my fellow wine lovers, I am very glad they get to access these small supply bin end wines . At the end of the day, all sales ,contribute to the bottom line of TWS and will benefit all members .
In fairness, the FWR is only around 4m x 4m (is it octagonal?) so not that significant. It’s a ‘nice to have’ but doesn’t really give an unfair advantage to members living locally. There must be some recompense for those that live near Stevenage !
The alternative would be an online FWR which would be an @rse to administer considering the tiny quantities and fleeting timeframes involved. Can you imagine the uproar on this forum if a member failed to ‘bag’ a bottle of Chateau X, despite there only being a single case to sell in the first place?
On my last visit it was still there with such treats as a 1902 Bual and some Margaux, Grange and lots of top end Burgundy, Port, Napa etc…
Rich person’s paradise, but for me look don’t touch!
I stand corrected then, I didn’t know those wines weren’t listed. I suspect they’re all well outside my budget anyway!
I don’t have much of a view about the TWS shop at Stevenage. I’ve never been there albeit it isn’t far from here to make a purposeful journey.
I suppose I do find it a little incongruous with the main ethos and trading style of the Society though. How much does it cost to run? Do its sales cover the cost of its operation (after all the French shop was closed down some time ago).
Either way I’m unlikely to go there as many others won’t either.
Some of us only joined because we were near enough to see and then use the shop. I do order very occasionally from purely online suppliers, but only if I have had some contact, recommendation etc. I prefer to buy wines which I have been able to try. (Annoyingly the showroom has closed the enomatics again: the website says this; no warning to users.) It would be difficult to calculate how much of their sales depend on the shop.
Until relatively recently the only way to order wines from The Wine Society was by using their list. There was no option to try and taste, you went by the wine buyers description.
The buyers were adventurous listing, in the early part of the last century, wines from Uruguay, Chile, South Africa, The Lebanon and many other places that shoppers today expect to see wines from.
Describing a wine well is an art and the Society buyers have that art. It will be a sad day if we have to taste every wine before buying.
Those bottles used to appear in mystery cases and they were a wonderful surprise.
Why should those who have the misfortune of living near Stevenage enjoy this ‘privilege’?
Not sure what you mean by ‘relatively recently’. It is certainly several decades, but I am afraid that my experience does not go back as far as ‘the early part of the last century’.
I visit the Showroom quite often, living not far away as we do. Apart from some bin ends / one-offs in the FWR, there are not to my knowledge any wines on sale at the showroom that aren’t on sale via the online offer. In fact the showroom probably only has a small %age of what’s available via the online offer.
The FWR itself is a bit of a [rather expensive!] treasure-trove it’s true, though I don’t think it’s stopped the Mystery Cases offer [?]