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Down On the Corner

Hplabel133wFrom The Office, 2005:

DwightSchrute:In the wild, there is no health care. In the wild, health care is, "Ow, Ihurt my leg. I can’t run. A lion eats me and I’m dead." Well, I’m notdead. I’m the lion, you’re dead.

When I was coming out of school in the mid 1990s, I needed healthcare, and a steady income—the parental umbilical cord having been cut. Before graduating, however, I took a mediaresearch class where, for approximately 100 minutes, spread out over two classsessions, we reviewed what was previously known as the Information Superhighway that was then manifesting itself as the World Wide Web (WWW). We talked about using the WWW as a tool forjournalism research—Yahoo! and Webcrawler were amongst the highlights. Later that year, while doing an internship Ihad Internet access from my computer—albeit at 2400 baud—which was effectively22X slower then a 56K dial-up modem which is too slow now if you have DSL whichis too slow if you have broadband at home.  It was slooooooooow. 

The highlight of that Internet access during my internship was -–regrettably— gettingmy first job at a small and forgettable advertising agency in Indianapolis, IN thatwas designing web sites in addition to seeing the object of my youthful affection, AlyssaMilano, nude from a recent movie she was in, Embrace of the Vampire. The latter far outweighing the former in thrill.

But, this Internet access essentially sent me in the direction of technologyas a career path and abandoning, for the most part, the advertising career Ihad previously just gone to school for. I haven’t regretted that decision.

In the ongoing chronicle of the wine youth movement, acouple of recent articles highlight this ongoing trend—wine—a passion, or a new personal interest for many of these young post-collegiate students, who are coming of age as a “Core” wine drinker, numerous reports show that they are pursuing a career inwine.

This jives with what marketers say are stereotypical characteristicsof Gen. Y as employees:

Unlike thegenerations that have gone before them, Gen Y has been pampered, nurtured andprogrammed with a slew of activities since they were toddlers, meaning they areboth high-performance and high-maintenance, Tulgan says. They also believe intheir own worth.

"GenerationY is much less likely to respond to the traditional command-and-control type ofmanagement still popular in much of today’s workforce," says JordanKaplan, an associate managerial science professor at Long IslandUniversity-Brooklyn in New York. "They’ve grown up questioning theirparents, and now they’re questioning their employers. They don’t know how toshut up, which is great, but that’s aggravating to the 50-year-old manager whosays, ‘Do it and do it now.’ "

Thatspeak-your-mind philosophy makes sense to Katie Patterson, an assistant accountexecutive at Edelman Public Relations in Atlanta. The 23-year-old, who hailsfrom Iowa and now lives with two roommates in a town home, likes to collaboratewith others, and says many of her friends want to run their own businesses sothey can be independent.

"We arewilling and not afraid to challenge the status quo," she says. "Anenvironment where creativity and independent thinking are looked upon as apositive is appealing to people my age. We’re very independent and techsavvy."

This 25 yearold from Ohio is starting a wine store called WineStyles. I’ve studied their model and also that ofVino 100, which is a wine concept by the same folks that did the Tinder Box atyour local mall. Personally speaking, I’mnot a fan of either concept—not that either is bad at its core, but my beliefholds steadfast that an independent store will fare better then a franchise—in therealm of wine. Note to readers: if you have a strong urge to spend $25K on afranchise fee, please let me know. Iwill write your business plan and create a compelling value proposition in yourmarket for a lot cheaper. The upside,however, is the pooled buying, which, of course, gets you access to wines witha scaled economy for price alongside wines that might not be in your localgeography.

An Excerpt fromthe Cincinnati Post:

WineStyles isdesigned for anyone who’s ever walked into a wine shop convinced that everyoneelse in the store - including the guy stocking the shelves - knows six timesmore about wine than he or she ever hoped to know.

The company has sold102 franchises in 16 states and has 47 stores open, including two inCincinnati’s northern suburbs owned by Jesse Weaver.

Weaver is aHenderson, Ky., native who was looking for a business opportunity after hegraduated from Belmont University in Nashville with a degree in finance.

"It’s aconsumer-friendly way to buy wine with a format that’s easy tounderstand," said Weaver, 25. "I’m learning about wine along with mycustomers, and I was smart enough to know that I didn’t know enough."

Weaver said hecompensated for his lack of knowledge by hiring two store managers who have adepth of knowledge about wines. Carolyn Thorne runs his store in West Chesterand Craig Madding is in charge in Mason.

WineStyles estimatesthat the start-up costs for a new franchise - including a $25,000 franchise fee- will run somewhere between $149,000 and $235,000, depending on real estateprices, renovation expense and fixtures expenses and the cost of permits andlicenses.

The company says thatthe rapid growth of the chain can be linked directly to America’s rapidlygrowing interest in wine.

 Interesting, in this other story, however, that an MBAstudent, having the benefit of the extra education, would decide to put his orher own shingle out for their own business concept.

Excerpt from Business Week Online: 

In 2005 wine overtook beer as the most common alcoholicbeverage consumed in the U.S. The U.S. is predicted to surpass Italy and Franceas the largest consumer of wine in the world by 2010. Per capita, U.S.consumption of wine was up by over 9.5% from 1997 to 2001, according to theWine Institute, a trade association of California wineries.

Not only U.S. consumption is increasing: The wine business is poised forcontinued growth worldwide. As more MBAs learn to appreciate wine for itsflavor and complexity, they have also noticed fertile ground for businessopportunities and a slower-paced lifestyle than they would have withtraditional MBA careers.

Ccochran_2006_118x158 Courtney Ann Cochran, a certified Sommelier, started her ownbusiness. Link for her blog is below. It’s not too bad—a bit L.A.-ish, but notbad, on the whole.

And this from another Business Week article that highlightedMs. Cochran:

I’m the founder and principal of Your Personal Sommelier, awine-consulting company which offers personalized wine services to individualsand businesses in San Francisco and Los Angeles. These services include winetastings, cellar management, and personal wine shopping. In an effort to targetthe growing number of young, urban wine drinkers, I recently founded HIP TASTESEvents, a special-events firm through which I offer stylish wine tastings tothe general public in San Francisco.

As sole proprietor, my current job responsibilities encompass everything fromsourcing new business and forging partnerships to servicing client needs and overseeingmarketing and advertising. I’m my own IT staff, marketing guru, accountingstaff, and operations manager.

In any period of revolution, it is always the unempowered that rise up to seize the opportunity.  With Baby-Boomers retiring in droves, Generation X’ers having shaken off their malaise and stupor to move into parenthood, will the revolution occur in wine led by our youngest generation—Gen. Y?


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