the forum

14 May, 2010

Q I own a small off-licence/wine merchants in a little town in mid-Wales. I took over the business two years ago from my mother but I find it really frustrating that there are a lot of people around here with a lot of money and they never use my shop. Can anyone help me encourage local people to buy from me instead of travelling further afield??A The people with the money may not, ultimately, be the ones who keep your tills ringing. If you aim to keep your average prices at around £6 or so, with a few higher-priced treats for the wealthier occasional customers, this will probably be a better idea than pitching your offer too high.

Mary, Cambridgeshire??A Hold tastings, offer discounts, send out email newsletters, establish a Facebook page – anything, in fact, to engage with your customers. Get a two-way dialogue going and you stand half a chance of repeat custom.

Jen, Surrey??Q Why is it that, despite making a very reasonable bid for a nearby First Quench site and being turned down, the store is still boarded up and shows no sign of being bought by whoever supposedly made a better offer??A Join the club. Having been told by the administrators that my offer was too small, I was referred to the agent. I put in my bid and the trail went dead.

BW, Kent??A Appearances may be deceptive. I’m expecting to complete on a purchase of an ex-Threshers branch and to the untrained eye the store still looks boarded up and unwanted. Little do the public know …?JJ, Hampshire??Q Am I allowed to offer a free cigar with a bottle of Cognac, or am I offending some regulation that has never been explained to me?John, Norfolk??Q If traffic fumes enter my shop is there any chance they could affect unopened bottles of wine?Dee, Surrey

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English wine: a happy harvest for Christmas

All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later they’re crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

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