To respond to the unanswered questions below, or to ask a reader's advice, simply e-mail:
Q Why do so many customers refer to a "crate" rather than a "case" of wine? Is there a technical difference between the two terms?
A Whenever I'm asked for a crate, I produce a dirty wooden box with dangerous staples all over it and proceed to load it up. If the request is changed to "a cardboard box" I usually say "oh, you mean a case" and load that instead. Don't ask me how I've become so petty-minded as I've aged.
Q Has anyone experimented with dim and full-glare lighting? I've always assumed customers responded better to soft lighting but I've noticed a growing trend towards bright lights. Does one do a better job than the other in encouraging sales?
A Dim light is obviously far more suitable for fine wine merchants as it doesn't damage the merchandise
and creates a cosy atmosphere. But passing traffic assumes the shop is closed and some people just find it dingy and off-putting. We recently switched to bright lights and a cleaner, more modern feel to the shop and the results have been terrific. It goes against my religion to subject wine to full-glare light but the finer stuff can still be preserved in a corner with spotlights angled in the opposite direction.
A Am I the only one horrified by the trend towards bright lights in off-licences? It's so unprofessional. It's like a greengrocer installing central heating.
Q I had a customer who was convinced that LBV port is superior to vintage. I can see why: it sounds more impressive. It pained me to put him straight and he took some convincing. Anyone else ever find themselves in a similar position, and how did you correct a misconception without appearing condescending and arrogant?
Q I have (apparently) started saying "please enter your PIN" while I'm asleep. Am I working too hard?