In 2012, as those who follow my Booze Blog entries will remember, I got my first bottle of Pappy Van Winkle—specifically, the 15-year-old. Actually, I was able to get two bottles.
How? I got on a waiting list at the Total Wine on Stephanie Street in Henderson, and when I got the call to come pick up my first bottle, I asked if I could put my name on a second list just in case someone else no-showed. And that’s exactly what happened.
Soon, a friend at work asked how she could procure a bottle of her own. I explained about the waiting list, and recommended she get her name on it early.
This is where the story gets a bit murky. A few days later, my friend said she called Total Wine, and was told there was no longer a waiting list—for Pappy Van Winkle or anything else.
Eventually I stopped by myself and talked to a staffer who confirmed that, indeed, waiting lists are a thing of the past at Total Wine. Apparently, the store ownership changed hands, and the new owners’ policy was that bottles are stocked and sold on a “first come, first served” basis. If you want to know when bottles come in, you must call or come in—no one will be calling you.
I'm conflicted over this news. On the one hand, I understand why a waiting list would be a no-win situation for the store, with shipments of certain bottles incredibly limited and hundreds of anxious wait-list customers becoming hundreds of angry wait-list customers when they don’t get called first.
On the other hand, there’s something to be said for rewarding the diligent customer. If someone visits a store every day for 30 days to check on supplies, imagine their frustration when, on the 31st day a shipment comes in and promptly sells out
And what about rationing? After all, if a product is on the shelf, what’s to stop any customer from buying half—or all—of the allotment? The customer rep I talked to assured me that such activity would not be allowed, but there are ways around any policy. I could, for example, pay friends to come in and buy bottles on my behalf.
Other liquor stores in town—Lee’s Discount Liquor and Khoury’s, for example—still have waiting lists, and I find myself frequenting their establishments more often because of it. There’s something comforting about knowing a bottle of my favorite upcoming bourbon will be set aside for me, and that I don't have to worry about missing a visit or making a phone call.