the forum

08 February, 2008

To respond to the unanswered questions below, or to ask a reader's advice, simply e-mail:



Should I leave the dust on my bottles of fine claret and Burgundy to add to the mystique of these wines?

A Dust means two things: stock that people don't want to buy

and a manager who doesn't care enough about the stock to keep it clean. It adds up to a shop I wouldn't want to visit.

Mandy, Bucks

AWe leave our fine wines to gather dust because I don't want to keep picking them up and disturbing sediment and generally fiddling about with them. It does absolutely no harm to the wine in the bottle either .

James, North Yorks

AI used to work for a shop where the slightly loopy owner used to add fake dust to bottles on display to make them look older than they were. I wouldn't call it "mystique" though.

Barry, North Wales

Q Would a realistic-looking panic button on my counter deter ­potential robbers?

A It may well do, but panic buttons are not the panacea you may think they are. When I worked at Unwins in the late 1990s our security chief was opposed to panic buttons, real or fake, because they had the potential to panic robbers into a sudden act of violence. We were told that people had actually been hurt when armed raiders had seen them press these buttons.

MA, Kent

A Conspicuous CCTV cameras would be a better investment. There is absolutely no point in resorting to gimmicks or skimping on costs when it comes to protecting your business, your staff and yourself.

Ash, Leicester

Q I occasionally receive ­promotional merchandise from suppliers and cash and carries. Is it acceptable to use this stuff as incentives for staff if they hit certain targets?

A, south London

Q If I offer baskets to customers as they enter my shop, will my average transaction value increase?

Sol, Bucks

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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Don't know