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Archive for July, 2020

Baseball, retail, and square bottles of whisky.

July 24, 2020 Leave a comment

Howdy Free Rangers,

Okay, so this is weird. It seems the wrong people are becoming a bit afraid of me. Let me first say this: If you are reading this e-mail and have enough empathy in your heart to have ever wondered what it’s like to be on our side of the sales counter, you are not one of the people whose story makes it into these chronicles, about customers that drive us mad. Meanwhile, that same whiskey bro I bitched about last time apparently came back while I was out and started pointing to bottles behind the counter and offering Derek “cash prices” (tax free) below retail. Since it’s illegal to not charge sales tax, he was really asking for a double discount. This guy has yet to put a penny into our business, and is only interested in our very rarest items, so not sure why he thinks anybody would want to give him a deal and incentivize his return.

Conversely, we have endless patience for, and take great enjoyment in, honest questions about wine and spirits, no matter how simple or complex. I can talk about the differences between Bourbon and Rye, or the subtle similarities shared by Pinot Noir and Syrah, all day. That’s kind of how I ended up here. And while I know a fair amount about these things, I certainly don’t know everything about anything. Part of what’s so cool about the world of wine & spirits is that any true student of the game is always learning. Though I suppose one could say that about any worthwhile discipline, and/or student. Whatever you’re into, if you genuinely believe there’s nothing more for you to learn there, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Reps, colleagues, and customers bring things to my attention all the time that result in questions and research on my end, which really is part of the fun. At some point, I reallocated all of the brain space that used to contain sports stats and trivia; so while I no longer remember who played 3rd base for the Pittsburg Pirates in 1960, I can tell you with relative confidence that unless you have a profoundly rare acute allergy- which completely prevents you from ever eating deli meat or dried apricots- it wasn’t the miniscule amount of sulfites in the wine that caused your headache last Friday. But seriously, please don’t stand in front of the fridge when you enter the shop. Those same bottles are priced on the wall (low to high), where the lights are on, five more feet into the building. Also, you’re blocking the front door, which isn’t cool to us, other patrons, or to the tenets of basic social distancing. Please help us out here.

Re: sports stats, baseball was my first love, and I do still remember that Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record on April 8th, 1974. He also once graciously let me interview him for a high school term paper on Jackie Robinson and the integration of baseball. April 8th, was also the birthday of Mets’ great, Gary Carter, who wore #8 on his jersey, while his knees slowly disintegrated behind home plate. Gary was also super nice to an awkward adolescent me, and autographed just about everything I owned, during a few consecutive spring breaks of leaning over the rail at pre-season ballgames in West Palm Beach. It is for these reasons that even though I haven’t followed team sports for many years, I do still celebrate Baseball Day every April 8th. Please feel free to bring your own peanuts and Crackerjacks. Hopefully by next spring we’ll be hosting in-store tastings, and we can pour the perfect pairing for that.

This week’s Open Hours remain (though we’ve been staying open later than posted fairly frequently).

Mon – Thurs:             1 – 7pm
Fri – Sat:                      1 – 8pm
Sunday:                       1 – 7pm

Always worth a call, if you think it’s getting late: 718.643.2250

[NOTE: THIS SALE IS OVER, to receive e-mails directly from Free Range Wine & Spirits (while the sales are active), please enter your e-mail address at the bottom of the front page on our site: www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com]

Congratulations on making it to the sale portion or our show! Unfortunately, I’m not tech savvy enough to generate a coupon code without Derek here, so we’re going with an old fashioned must-re:-this-e-mail style offer right now! I suppose it’s also radio call-in style, because the next 6 people to reply with intent to purchase, shall receive 1 bottle of Nikka From the Barrel Japanese Whisky @ $99 (usually $139), first e-mailed, first served!

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down and Out on Atlantic Avenue

July 20, 2020 Leave a comment

Hey Free Rangers,

The (whiskey) bottle hunters are back, and I’m not handling it well. Also had a non-masker be fairly aggressive with us (and a couple of customers), who later came back with a mask, seemingly attempted fraud, and then removed said mask to make a phone call at the counter, as a line began to form. Contrary to what some may believe, I take no joy in telling someone to get out and never come back (particularly in front of other customers), but that’s how this one ended, after some fairly predictable expletives were exchanged. It was a bit of a crazy moment, so I can’t be certain, but it seems as though this was also the source of the knife that was abandoned on our sales counter. Eight years into our 15 year lease on Atlantic Ave, and things have never been weirder. May we live in interesting times, indeed.

But back to the bottle hunters: If you’ve ever gone into a shop, spent 20 minutes telling the shopkeepers stories about bottles you’ve bought elsewhere, only to walk out without spending a penny, you’re probably not as decent a person as you think you are. If you’ve done this during a global pandemic, you’re very likely what my bluntest uncle used to refer to as BAM (basic asshole material). We have a genuinely sweet, conscientious landlord (which is rare in this town), but even she won’t accept a story about the $800 you spent on 2 bottles of Willett XCF– in another state- in lieu of rent. This kind of guy will never understand why he doesn’t have access to our rarest stuff, or favorable (negotiable) pricing. Spending ten bucks vs. zero really is the difference between being invited to receive our unpublished e-mail sales, and not.

The same week, a customer came in looking for a few serious bottles of the brown stuff for a wedding-related event. He was friendly and inquisitive, we had a nice conversation, I pulled quotes on all sorts of rare items that aren’t on the web site, and we talked about the differences, and scarcities. In the end he selected 4 rare American whiskeys, for which we took $250 off his bill. I’m a collector turned retailer and really just want our rarest bottles to go to good homes. We’re like a dog rescue, but for whiskey.

To run with the metaphor, would you let a guy adopt a dog who tells loud stories about other dogs he’s known without ever looking at the animal you’re fostering? To sit, shake, lie down, and rollover with that metaphor… well, you get the picture. In honor of all those bottle hunters who are not on this e-mail list, check out the bottom of this note for some serious discounts on rare bottles.

This week’s Open Hours remain the same:

Mon – Thurs:             1 – 7pm
Fri – Sat:                      1 – 8pm
Sunday:                       1 – 7pm

Always worth a call, if you think it’s getting late: 718.643.2250

NOTE: THIS SALE IS OVER, to receive e-mail sales directly from Free Range Wine & Spirits, please enter your e-mail address at the bottom of the front page on our site: www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com

This week only!                                               sale:     retail:
Elijah Craig Free Range Single Barrel 8yr       $29       $36
Writers Tears gift set                                        $37        $44
EH Taylor Small Batch Bourbon                       $49        $56
The Clover 10yr Tennessee Straight Bourbon $69     $85
Henry McKenna Bourbon 10yr**                      $69     $89
Blood Oath Bourbon Pact No. 6**                   $109     $129
Yamazaki Single Malt 12yr                                $115     $135
St George Single Malt The Baller**                  $89     $149
Hakushu Single Malt 12yr                                  $149     $185
Dalmore Single Malt 18yr**                               $195     $249
Hakushu Single Malt 18yr                                 $425     $525

** limit 2 bottles per customer

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

Sigmund Fraud (sp?, we know)…

July 8, 2020 Leave a comment

 

Hello Free Rangers,

It’s humid, it’s stormy, our AC bills are through the roof, and we seem to be spending two thirds of our workday pulling people out of the refrigerator. Yup, it’s summer (in and out of the bottle). This was a fun one: A well-dressed woman comes in with a large stroller, and a walking, talking, fully coordinated child (too old for a stroller?). She parks the stroller blocking the front door, takes things out of the refrigerator that she then asks us to put back, allows her kid to pick up bottles, and hang on the fridge door. When I gently suggest (the third time) that she view the Champagne on the wall, where the lights are on and prices are listed, she immediately pulls another bottle from the fridge and asks how much it is, to which I reply, “the price is right over here, where I’ve asked you to look three times.” She shoots me an icy glare and growls, “Am I doing something that’s bothering you?” Yeah, it’s been that kind of a week.

Endless thanks to our friendly neighborhood regulars who let us vent, and have already heard this one; and to all of our four-legged friends, who lower my blood pressure, daily, with their furry sincerity. You’re always welcome to swing through for dog treats on a walk, whether or not you need a bottle for the road. Aside from the usual seasonal downturn in sales and uptick in obliviousness, we’re seeing a significant rise in attempted fraud, and almost exclusively for one product: Clase Azul Reposado Tequila. In fact, out of everyone (that isn’t already in our system) who has tried to purchase Clase Azul this year, only one person had a credit card with a chip and a valid ID with the same name that was on the card.

Clase Azul is a fraud magnet to a completely unprecedented degree. Most fraudsters want to pay with Apple Pay and show you a picture of an ID on their phone. Because of this, our policy on this product is that if a new customer even mentions Clase Azul, they must present a credit card with a working chip, a valid NY State drivers license in perfect condition, and a third form of ID with the same name. But we’d really prefer to sell what Clase Azul remains to our local friends at a discount, and then stop carrying it entirely. Scroll to the bottom for the details, and a link to the coupon code on our website.

Status quo on our weekly open hours, which look like this (though on nicer days, when folks tend to come in later, we have been staying open later than posted):

Mon – Thurs:              1 – 7pm
Fri – Sat:                      1 – 8pm
Sunday:                       1 – 7pm

Always worth a call, if you think it’s getting late: 718.643.2250

The website is running well, and there’s some cool new (and old) stuff that’s just been added: www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com

Here’s your sale of the week; we’ve got 10 bottles left and will not be ordering more:
sale:                        retail:
Clase Azul Reposado Tequila .750             $119                        $135

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits