It was never exactly clear to me if Ford actually had a better idea. I'm quite sure there were arguments on both sides of that question. Nonetheless, in the world of business, which includes beer, some ideas are clearly better. No, I'm not talking about light beer.
Sometimes you run across great ideas in unexpected places...in this case at the Whole Foods Market in (Bridgeport Village) Tigard. I stopped there last week as part of the wacky contract work I do. No, that work doesn't involve beer. Inside the store, I discovered something I'd been hoping to find in a grocery store for quite a while: beer taps and growlers.
About the tap list. They were pouring Boneyard Hop Venom, Deschutes Red Chair, Bridgeport Smooth Rye Ale, Mac & Jacks Amber and Rogue Roguenbier Rye Ale. The cider tap was occupied by Angry Orchard of Ohio. They tell me two of the beer taps, as well as the cider tap, will rotate. They were running a $10 special on growler fills (with free glass) to help get the word out. Fills will cost more than that going forward, but prices will be competitive.
|The pub inside the store|
Honestly the Whole Foods gig was a chance to show that they needed a friendly foodie like me to help bring their beer set to life. It's a chance to show them what a business savvy enthusiast could do with it. I think the most shocking thing I ever heard from one of my team leaders was that they couldn't believe beer could have so much success. I was like, "Excuse me. You do know you're inLet me take a step back for just as second. This particular Whole Foods is gigantic compared to the smaller ones we have in the city. I don't want to guess the square footage. The manager on duty told me the Tigard store does a huge volume. Sure enough, it was packed with suburbanites on a late Sunday afternoon.
Portland,right?" I have passion for it and I give it 110 percent. I love the culture, the people and, of course, the beer. Each one makes me strive harder to learn more and meet the people who have made it successful. As an east coast enthusiast who dreamed of enjoying a west coast life of beer, I have to say I'm one step closer.
|A closer view of a good idea|
Dan told me he spends a fair amount of time talking to customers. Some might call that education and I think that's a mistake. What he's really doing is sharing his thoughts, ideas and knowledge with people who want to know more about craft beer. Talk about a perfect fit. I'm probably not your normal customer (I have a lot of stubborn opinions), but we talked for nearly an hour.
|A customer evaluates the beer wall|
In case you're wondering, draft beer isn't the only thing they've got going at the Tigard Whole Foods. Dan has put together a very impressive beer wall. One of the cool things about Whole Foods (regardless of how you view the owner's politics) is the beer specialist/buyer essentially owns the beer section. This runs counter to the way it works at most big box stores, where a suit somewhere tells you what to carry and how to arrange the shelves.
The approach to beer at this particular store is quite fresh. I can't say I necessarily expected to find such vision here, but there it is. Everyone involved in putting this plan together deserves a lot of credit. They clearly have a better idea when it comes to beer.
Update: I'm hearing that other stores in this area are doing something like what they're doing at this Whole Foods. This is simply the first instance I've seen.