True News – True Sake Is Getting Naked!
That’s a weird title! Getting naked? Really? The short answer is yup! The long answer is that after almost 16 years of doing things one way, we as a team have decided to do things differently at the store. Does this mean service in the nude? Nope! Does this mean brutal customer honesty as in the naked truth? Nope! Does this mean that some business days might be sans clothes like “Naked Tuesdays and Thursdays?” Hell no! It simply means that we will be removing the protective and decorative sleeves and socks off of bottles that have them. All of our bottles in the fridge and on the shelves will now be without covering if they have them as part of their packaging.
Many brewers use protective “socks” or “sleeves” to cover their bottles for various reasons. Some of the socks are used to save the labels from being damaged by covering them in a protective way. The friction of bottle movement in boxes does often produce a ware and tear scenario that sees labels ripping or smudging, and that is not a look a sake producer wants to observe on a display shelf or in somebody’s home as they open a box of their sake. It protects the labels and keeps the brews looking sharp.
Other socks or sleeves are used to protect the actual sake in the bottle. These bags are often a UV repellant and turn away the rays of the sun or bright lights in a fridge or storage setting. UV light is not sake’s friend, so certain plastic bags are used to keep the product more fresh and undamaged. But what happens to these necessary but obtrusive bags in a fridge setting? They typically get sweaty and hold moisture, so the sake itself becomes drippy! Not cool. Necessary, perhaps! Cool? Not really.
So from a pure retail perspective, and as the last “protectors” of perfect sake conditioning we have come to the conclusion that our environment is safe enough to remove these bags, socks, and sleeves to make for a better looking shopping experience. If a sock obscures a label then the consumer cannot appreciate the amazing labels. If a bag is sweaty or beading with moisture this doesn’t make the bottle look that great. Who wants a sweaty bag? (Granted I am exaggerating how much moisture is actually in our fridges, but when the bottles get home they are then actually sweaty to a certain degree.)
I am a purest so I like the sleeves, socks and bags. But they are rarely in perfect shape at the end of a bottle of sake’s journey from brewery to household. So I was willing to hear out the team, who also expressed another problematic point about these coverings! They reminded me that they must take the socks, sleeves, and bags off to put our very necessary True Sake stickers on the bottles then they have to put the coverings back on. It’s a pain. And it’s time consuming. The stickers are incredibly important, and I used to put them on the bags themselves that would get thrown away. They said that this was ineffective, because the sticker belonged on the bottle. And this was music to my ears because the True Sake stickers are imperative to the quality of True Sake and all that we stand for in the industry as a leader and pioneering voice.
Putting stickers on sake bottles was my idea and my idea alone. Many folks in the industry have borrowed this idea, but they don’t know where I got the idea. Other sake retail shops have stickers on their bottles but why? They simply copied my idea. Do wine stores do it? Nope. It’s another True Sake original idea that means so much! It is the symbol of quality at our store. It is a sticker of trust. You as a consumer can trust that each bottle of sake that you purchase is a good bottle of sake and is being offered in good condition, meaning the date of the sake is fresh, and the handling of that sake has been sound and not destructive of the product within. It is the ultimate seal of approval by those who know. It is a sticker that means quality. And as you can tell, I am very proud of those stickers, which were not created to just get our website address out. So when the team said let’s ditch the bags to make it easier to sticker the bottles I was 100% in agreement.
So on your next visit to the store, take a look around, and see if you can spot any of those necessary but disruptive socks, bags, sleeves, and protective devices that came from the breweries? They are gone! And we have gone naked! And we are loving it!