Sake Bloopers – Ten Years of Sake Selling Snafus
In ten years of selling sake we have had some pretty funny moments, like any retail store, but ours seem a little sillier. For example:
Christmas time always seems to bring out the total lunacy in retail, but imagine a first time new business heading into it’s first holiday season. I thought that I was prepared. I thought that I’d crack that baby, but noooooo! Four days before the 25th parts of Hayes Valley lost power. And I mean total power. No lights, no fridge, no credit card machine, no nothing. Are you kidding me? The power company could not solve the problem. So I had to close the first day thinking the power would come back on. I put blue painting tape across the fridge doors and didn’t want to open them to try to keep whatever chill that I could. This was good for the first night!
Day two and still no power. No way! So now it was critical to get the appropriate sakes out of the now warm refrigerators, which I did by storing a large portion in my home fridge and local store’s fridge. (Thanks Sam!) I decided to open during the daylight hours and sold sake that was already out. Day three and still no power. No way! Way. One of my lasting images at this time was of my first employee Jeff Inahara who by candlelight was gift-wrapping sake sets for a line of customers. It was powerfully pathetic. The holiday shopping season is the meat and potatoes for retail stores, and we had no light, no credit card machine and only room temperature sake. Great! We used the old credit card “Shhhick Shhhuck” hand crank machines and I brought our electronic machine home and ran each and every credit card by hand later in the evenings. Crazy! What an introduction to the holiday crush.
The next Christmas a far grosser thing happened. It was Christmas eve and I was an hour away from closing the store. I was by myself. No way! Yup. There was a lot of customers in the store, and there were several in line. “Will you wrap this please!” “Can I have that in a nice box?” “You only have three glasses on the shelf, do you have more in the back?” The barrage of questions and requests was starting to ware me down. I just wanted to go. While wrapping, ringing up, and bagging I suddenly had a whiff of the most overwhelming dog poop smell ever. I walked from around the counter and saw the grossest and longest set of poop covered footsteps going the length of the store and around the island table. No WAY!
How this person did not know that they had a dog sledding team’s worth of doo-doo on his feet is beyond me. He sort of said whoops and sorry and then moseyed out of the store. My holiday jaw was on the floor. No way! So I said excuse me to the customers and immediately started cleaning. “Can you do that later?” “We are in a bit of a hurry!” The grumblings started and that is when I fully comprehended the power of holiday shopping hutzpah. I continued to clean and I heard the door open and close as several of the customers basically quit! Perhaps it was the shockingly powerful smell of the poop. When I finished the clean up (I did a remarkable job considering the floor at True Sake is seagrass) I apologized to the remaining shopping sickos and got back to work.
With about 20 minutes left in our extended store’s holiday shopping hours I caught another whiff of poo-poo insanity. No way! I looked back over the counter and for the love of God another snow-show-like track of crap wound it’s way around my store. “GET OUT!” I totally lost it. There were perhaps ten people in the store and I literally snapped. I went totally Michael Douglass in “Falling Down.” “Excuse me?” a woman of perhaps 40 with two sake sets in her hand said. “GET OUT!” I had lost all control. “Can we just buy these please and we will be gone!” “GET OUT!” The look on her face to this day makes me chuckle, she simply had no clue of how gone that I was and that holiday hours were OVER!