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Bar IQ

Does Your Back Bar Have an Achilles Heel?

November 20, 2012 By: Robert Plotkin


Some of us demented souls would rather stare at a magnificent back bar than gaze upon an artistic masterpiece or the Grand Canyon. Granted, it makes us rather limited conversationalists, but on the other hand, we’ve gained insights into the marketing of spirits that you may find interesting.

There is a commonality to be found in nearly every back bar in the country, namely that each contains products that shouldn’t be on their shelves. In a perfect world, a beverage operation would have an unlimited amount of shelf space upon which to market liquors and liqueurs. However, this is far from a perfect world and operators have just so much linear shelf space to display inventory.

There are several things to consider the next time you sit at your bar and look at the products you’re marketing to the public. First, scan the back bar for dead stock, which can be loosely defined as a product that take more than 6-9 months to deplete. If it sits on your back bar that long, it’s generally considered a bad financial investment. Even worse, dead stock takes up precious space that could be put too much better use, such as the marketing of new and exciting brands. The back bar is prime commercial real estate; too valuable to be squandered on unpopular merchandise.

There are other reasons to get rid of dead stock. With the passage of time these products begin to get a dirty and dingy appearance. Their labels get stained and start looking tattered, which is not exactly the enticing appearance you’re hoping they portray.

So what should you do with the dead stock? Let’s face it, this is going to be something of a challenge, in as much as the reason they haven’t sold is that they’re probably unpopular, and out of step with contemporary tastes. There are two options. The first is to devise specialty drinks that use the products in their recipes. Even Rock & Rye, apricot brandy and root beer schnapps can be made appetizing in the right vehicle.

If that’s not viable, the other alternative is to take the products in question off the back bar and store them in the liquor room until fate or inspiration intervenes. On the surface this may seem like a bad idea. How can you deplete the items if they’re sitting in the storeroom? The answer to the objection is that you’re not selling the products anyway, so get them off the back bar and make room for brands that will sell.

Whether you bleed off dead stock in a punch at the annual Christmas party, or use it to dissolve clogged drains, any course of action that gets the products off the back bar is preferable to leaving them behind the bar.

You can learn a lot by looking at a back bar. What shape is yours in these days?


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