Kid-proof shops in a hip-hop stylee

22 February, 2008

Now that Mosquito devices have been demonised by the Children's Commissioner, beleaguered retailers may be forced to look for alternatives to high-pitched squeals to deter menacing kids from hanging around their forecourts. The answer is simple: try to out-teenage the teenagers. Write all signs in laboured text language ("CR8S OF BREZR 4 10 QWID"), change the shop name to something like Four-pack Shakur's, and make embarrassingly dad-like conversation with da kids about the graffiti mural of Jay Zed you're planning for your shutters. Within a week the only under-25s in your shop will be harmless, bookish spods buying ruby port for their grans.

You couldn't make it up

Yes, we know it's not big or clever to laugh at people's names. But was there anyone in the Guildhall for the recent WSET graduations who didn't silently rejoice in the fact that the winner of the Wines of Portugal Scholarship was Waitrose wine adviser Nicholas Sherry?

We don't like change ...

Intriguing news from Harveys of Lewes, where the creation of a microbrewing plant next to the reverse osmosis machine means the brewery shop might one day be able to offer a strange new product alongside its award -winning ales: lager.

"It theoretically enables us to generate the original liquor - water that we brew with - from any number of sources," explains managing director Hamish Elder. "For example, we can reproduce the water of P lzen so we can brew a proper, gen uine pils ner lager."

Harveys devotees are not known for their love of change (just ask Greene King). The conundrum for Hamish and his team is whether the locals will embrace a Harveys lager with eager enthusiasm, or whether they will march down Cliffe High Street with blazing torches. You can never quite tell in Lewes.

Simply outrageous

Hysterical locals in various areas - often the sort of locations where a lot of sportswear is sold, but not much sport is played - frequently object to licence applications from retailers they don't like the sound of. Bargain Booze has had this problem on more than one occasion, purely as a result of misconceptions about its name. Recently Booze Buster's fascia so offended the burghers of Timsbury, near Bath, that the company was forced to change it to Simply Drinks. We would have thought that was a bit too close to "Pimply Drunks" for such a nice area, but there you go.

Luck of the Irish?

We think we've got a fight on our hands in the UK - but it's all kicking off in Ireland. The Irish Medical Association believes alcohol should be banned from sale in all petrol stations. And supermarkets. Oh, and any other form of shop too.

The medics argue that justice minister Brian Lenihan has "correctly identified the off-licence sector as the major source of our continuing alcohol problem".

"Attempts at a voluntary code have rightly been seen as a futile exercise", said former IMO president Prof Joe Barry. Could be a good time to invest in a retail business in one of Ulster's border towns ...

Bock til you drop

So farewell, then, Artois Bock. Sales, apparently, were only marginally higher than the number of people who actually believed that it owed its existence to "the chance discovery of the original recipe at the brewery's confidential archives". For a start there's a bloke in west London who claims to have been on the committee that dreamt it up - and he doesn't look much like Edmund Willems, who would now be about 140.

"Artois Bock is a complex, intriguing beer that continues to stimulate even the most refined of palates and enquiring of minds," gushed InBev shortly after the launch. It was certainly a brand that prompted plenty of questions. "Isn't this more Viennese than bock?" was a popular one. "Didn't it used to be sold at full price?" was another.

The way of the Winehouse

People are coming up with some funny uses for wine: investing in it, for one.

But now a US artist has come up with the most promising entry so far for OLN's Most Pointless Waste of a Good Beverage Award 2008 - a celebrity metaphor.

Minneapolis-based artist Phil Hansen has carved an image of "troubled" singer Amy Winehouse out of a frozen block of red Californian table wine - and then melted it, "to symbolise the self-destructive tendencies of the star", the Times reported. What's wrong with you people? Just drink it!

That's what Amy Winehouse would do, after all.

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