Skip to main content

I get tired of retailers telling me "we offer a case discount".

I prefer to buy 1-4 bottles of wine at a time but, I do this at least once a week and most of what I buy is $25/btl and up. I don't get why retailers are reluctant to give really good customers a discount everytime they walk in the door? How much money can a retailer make on a case of $8 Zinfandel vs 4 bottles of 01' Beaucastel?

I don't get it? Then they wonder why serious wine customers are buying wines from internet sites?
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

On average, I buy between 6 bottles and a case per month but, that is split up between a couple retailers, mailing list, and internet sources. That said, I still consider myself a better customer then the guy who buys 12 bottles of Northcoast Cab for $96.

For example this past month I bought 3 bottles of 02' Verget Montmain $29 ea., 2 bottles of Dauvissat Chablis $25ea. and one bottle of 02' Verget Vallions $33ea. from a local retailer who gave me nothing off when I ask on my two trips. This retailer sticks to their case price policy.


i don't mean to sound like a snob but you sound far from what i would call a good customer. from my calculations you spent $170 with that retailer in one month. i don't know the retailer but i am sure he has people who are buying cases if wine every month for $170 per bottle. i do not know you financial situation and i know that this can be an expensive hobby, but what you have to understand is that retailers also don't know your financial situation. the only difference is they don't care about your finances, they only care about theirs. i know you don't want to hear this but you probably are a very small fish in their pond.

one bit of advice i can give you is, always try to buy from the same retailer even if their prices on certain items are a bit higher. also let them know this. if they know that they are getting the majority of your wine dollars they might be willing to extend a discount in the hopes that someday you might grow to be a bigger fish in the pond. Cool

i own a small service oriented business and as a business owner i know who are the good customers. usually they are the ones who don't remind me they are good customers. typically if you have to tell a company you are, then you are not a good customer. Big Grin
Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin
Hey Anthonyiez

1. My original point was and still IS that buying 12 bottles of wine does not make you a great customer worthy of an additional 10% off.

2. I am far from this retailer's biggest customer. I would guess however that I spend more money with them then at least 90% of the people they give a case discount to for buying 12 bottles of cheap wine.

3. I don't know about where you buy but, I find very few stores who inventory more then about 30% of the wines I am looking to buy. For example, I ask this store and three other local stores if they were going to get any 2002 Giradin Poligny M Les Pucelles. None of them planned to so I ended up buying four bottles from Premeir Cru. Its simply impossible to buy from one or even two stores.

4. $170 x 12mo = $2040/yr
I think most stores would like that business vs 12btls x $8 = $96 once or twice year OR even 10 times year.

We live in a world of supply and demand. If your retailer isn't interested in giving you a discount, then take your business elsewhere. Its that simple. Of course, if your economic analysis isn't correct, you might end up not having anywhere to buy wine.

You might consider asking the retailer if he'd give you 10% off of your NEXT PURCHASE in which you spend $100. That way, he will understand that you're not trying to just save a buck today on your three bottles of wine.

Having said that, I think the logic you're employing on this problem may be faulty. You're assuming that the retailer's profit margins are the same on the $8 bottle as it is on the $28 bottle. It probably isn't. He's probably making more money (in terms of percentage of the total sale) on the low-end stuff. As such, it is in his best interest to sell large volumes of this cheap stuff.

By the way, when I think of a case discount, I usually think of it as buying eleven bottles and getting one free.

Semper ubi sub ubi!
...My prices start out below retail. And I give customers who buy $100 at a time a $10 certificate for their next purchase.

...I also let good customers in on special, limited allocations that never make it to the shelf.

...I am ready and willing to hunt down off-the-beaten-path wines for customers, provided they are willing to buy at least 6 bottles at a time. Few are willing to do this, proving to me that they are just jerking my chain. Of those few that do, most of the time, I get stuck with the rest of the case.

...I agree with the other posters that your buying habits are sporadic and esoteric. Buying 6 to 9 bottles a month, one of this, one of that, spread out over 4 retailers, doesn't sound like much to me. Most people that drink the wines you speak of will buy by the case and store for the future. Half of me wonders whether this is a "real" post or not. However, I have tried to respond to it at face value.

In contrast to Highdesert, I work for a larger retailer, but I do see some similarities in the way we take care of our good customers.

1. All customers are entitled to the same treatment. After all, a first-time buyer could be be new to town and looking for place to do business with.

2. In fairness to all of our customers we offer a case discount, and if you are a "club member" (membership is free) you can receive the case discount twice a week on up to 6 bottles of wine, as well as be eligible for great savings on different wines from month to month.

3. Even though we dont give additional discounts to "good customers," here is what does happen. As I begin to develop a professional relationship with my customers, I take note of their likes and dislikes and keep records of which wines they prefer. Therefore, when something comes across my plate thats hard to find and I know that they will want it, I can order these wines in and ensure them at least a few bottles before our allocation is gone.

The point Im trying to make here is that even tough many retailers can not fairly give a $$$ discount, there are other ways we can show our regular customers that we appreciate them and their business.
This is a great thread. I've really enjoyed it.

I shop at a few stores, and the merchants know me where I shop (except maybe Sam's, but I try not to shop there much). The merchant I shop at the most does not offer case discounts to anyone. They know me as a regular customer and what I do get from them is what FSU and HDW mentioned- when there's something of limited quantity and they know I like that style they'll hold it for me.

The places with case discounts I will buy a case to get a discount. I don't expect it if I go in for 3-5 bottles, and if I'm going to buy 8 I usually try to find 4 more to fill out the case. The only exception is one store that will give me the discount because I have a personal relationship with the owner outside of the wine world.

SOrry, Montrachet, I kind of agree that case discounts are for case purchases. They should give them for the mixed case or the straight case, but either way, volume is volume and that's how stores make money.

Yes, but I came here for an argument.

Oh! Oh! I'm sorry, this is abuse.
I go to three diffent wine shops and all three give me discounts by the bottle.

1. My favorite store gives me %10 off per bottle on anything with a white price sticker on it. Anything with an orange sticker is already discounted or at their best price.

2. This store keeps track of my purchases via a computer and discounts my wine accordingly. For instance: When I went over the $500 mark, I recieve a specified discount. When I reached the $1000 mark, I received an even better discount. This is on a yearly basis.

3. The owner of this store just happens to have a son who plays baseball with my nephew. This was one of those things where being in the right place/family helps.

On the other side of the coin, one store that I used to frequent charges way to much to begin with (lack of experience on my part) and never offered a bottle discount. They did however offer the %10 disount by the case. Even this was too high. Right now they have a bottle of 1998 Opus One priced at $199. Eek Please. Another thing that made me stop going to this store was the fact that after both of my children were born, they didn't even offer me a cigar. I bought some though. I was on a first name basis with this store and they even called MY GRANDMOTHER their grandmohter. Rest her soul. She used to love this store.

Great topic by the way!

Cheers to GrapeFriends!

i do not think $2040 a year makes you a good customer. also we are onlt talking about one month's worth of purchases, what else have you bought? you need to look at this from the retailer's perspective and the one's i know would not consider that amount very much. shoot, they probably have beer drinkers who buy more than that a month.

don't take what i am saying the wrong way. i am just trying to give you the raw facts of business. whether you like or not, the people who spend the big bucks and befriend one specific retailer are the ones who recieve the deals and the allocated wine.

i know this because i used to be you, until i decided to give one retailer the majority of my business. now i get the same discount no matter how many bottles i buy. just the facts of life buddy. learn how to operate within them and you will be happier.
What might you suggest if the place in your area that has the best selection and prices also is "The Party Source". Where part time college students ring you up not the guy you just spent a half hour talking with, every week. I must say though that nowadays I am still a small fish in the toilet bowl of life, however due to this forum I know how better to spend my money
(mailing lists/auction sites/online stores) Local stores now get a very small percent of my business as opposed to year ago 100% was local.


PS: As far as what I expect for a discount consider this real-life scenario:

I go to the same bar every time I go out. All the employees there know my name. The owners son and I went to high school together. I practically have my own stool at the bar. I get great prices there, regardless if I buy 12 beers, 5 beers, 1 beer. That is because of the relationships I have there. I expect discounts there and they know I am coming back next time I go out.

Random bar I go to with a couple of buddies. I've been here before, but I don't know the bar-tender. Bunch of random guys playing pool drinkin Natural Light buckets: 5 for $5. I order a 22oz Bass. 6 bucks says the man. Damn I pay $2.50 for these at my home bar. Would he rather sell the Natural Light or the Bass?

That bartender that doesn't know me doesn't care how month I spend at the bars. HE doesn't know me and see that I come up every few days for a few beers. That person that comes up every few days for a few beers is a LOYAL customer. Become one and you will get less than case discounts. "Bar-hop" and you pay the man his price.

Good post though........
Thanks to each of you for your perspective. I have the feeling I've done a poor job of making my case because I still believe I'm right. I know I spent at least $2000 last year with the store in question just not 12 bottles at a time. I don't see how anyone can make much money on an $8 bottle of wine especially if sold with a case discount. Lets see, cost $6 sell for $8 x $2 =$16 profit on a case? I know I would discount the price everyday to guys who spend as many $$$$ on wine as I have at store A total last year.

I guess we agree to disagree on this one.

I am also from your part of town (the Twin Cities) and have built a relationship with a manager at one place in town. It has taken 4-5 years, but now he generally gives me a discount on whatever I buy. I talk with him whenever I go in, I buy everything that I can get locally from him, and I make sure when I spend $200 - $500+ a pop, he is there to help me pick some winners. Before I had kids, I would generally spend $400 a month with a $500 tab about twice a year at the big sales. I have slowed down now with little kids - don't go through as much. So if you want some hard numbers, that is what it took me in your area. I don't think what I spend is that much money for his store (not a big fish), but I think he truly enjoys the conversations we have whenever I stop in.
Originally posted by Emilio:

Something else you might want to consider. Instead of buying 3-4 bottles a week, purchase 12 bottles every 3-4 weeks. You might miss out on a few bottles but most stay on the shelf an extra couple of weeks. Just a thought....

This is a good idea. Make as big a splash as you can with your purchases if you want to be noticed.
I'm a fool who spends too much on wine but I do get noticed at the local shop for 2 reasons. The first is *what* I buy and the second is how much I spend.
On a recent trip, I had the manager walk over to me when he saw my cart full of wine and offer a couple of suggestions (one was the great Ramey Jericho Canyon) walk me to the register and give me roughly 60.00 off on my 500.00 order.
Granted, its not a huge discount but I was buying the wine anyway so it was a nice surprize.
The Twin Cities doesn't have one store where I can find more than 30% of what I am seeking.

In January I bought...

1990 Armand Rousseau Chambertin one of the rarest of Burgundies.
4 Vincent Girardin 01' Les Pucelles
3 " " 02' " "
3 Ravenueau 00' Monte Tonnerre
1 JJ Prum 02' WS Kab.

Kistler ML....
3 Vinehill Chard & 3 KV Pinot

Neil Family V ML....
3 750 NV Cabs & a split too

Surdyks local...
5 02'Verget Montmain
1 02'Verget Vallions
3 02'Dauvissat Chablis

Winestreets local....
2 96' Dominus
2 00' Beaucastel

Hennipen Lake local...
1 00' Beaucastel
1 02' Sebastiani PN
1 02' Verget Macon Vil

Dumol ML...
1- 01 Syrah Eddies Patch
2- 01 Finn PNs

I am not a case buyer... but I did buy over 3 total cases of wine last month, most of which is unavailable in the twin cites or only thru one TC retailer.
I think I should get a discount too but apparently most retailers are more impressed with the guy who comes in three times year and loads up his basket with Turning Leaf, Gallo, and Pinot Grigio.

Last month I bought 10 bottles,sorry two short of a case from Surydks locally just not all on the same trip.

I noticed Highdesert says people are "jerking him around" if they don't want to buy 6 bottles of a non stock item. To me, "Jerking someone around" always meant you inquire about something but don't buy anything. There are not many wines I want six bottles+ of. I would have over 2000 bottles in my cellar if I went around buying six bottles of every wine that interested me. I like buying one bottle to try, or 3-4 to try over a period of time. If I really dig a wine I'll then come back and buy 3-4 more. I hate being locked into six or 12 of a particular wine. So this month I jerked Premeir Cru around and bought 11 mixed bottles of wine worth $1000.
Montrachet- once again, no offence meant, but do the math! If you bought 10 bottles last month why not buy the 11th and get the 12th free?

When I got my 6 01 pride ($60 before case discount) I picked out 6 other bottles I was interested in, ranging in price from $8 to $30. I got to drink some interesting wines and I saved $6 per Pride, for a total of $36 savings, basically paying for more than one of the others. Makes sense, no?

Yes, but I came here for an argument.

Oh! Oh! I'm sorry, this is abuse.
Your point makes absolute sence but I'm just not wired to buy 12 bottles even when I'm only one or two short. Most of the time I'm probably 5-9 short of the 12 on any particular trip to the wine store.

Recently,I bought my first ever case of anything. 12 bottles of the 01' Pride Cab and man, to me, thats just too much of a particular wine. I prefer to be able to use my money to try lots of different things. Plus buying small lots allows me to recalibrate my collection weekly. I am more of a wine drinker than collector and hope to keep my collection under 500 bottles by not buying by the dozen and drinking up.
My little wineshop only has about 300 different bottlings, and very few French wines (I'm on the West Coast; Aussies are hot here).

Your point above is absolutely true -- most of these inquirers buy nothing. They are just trying to "impress" me that they have tasted a Cakebread, a Frog's Leap, or a Cloudy Bay at some decent restaurant off of a wine list. The wines mentioned are nearly always ubiquitous "wine list" wines. Any offer to suggest a similar (and better) wine is quickly dismissed. They then trundle out of the store, without buying anything.

I think that this fits your definition of "jerking my chain," no?

On the other hand, a few people show a genuine interest in trying new wines that match up to their palates (this is determined by engaging them in conversation about wines they have had and liked). Nearly all of these people make a point of returning to the store, remarking on their experience with the new wine, and trying more, and different, wines.

Such people become favored customers, and accrue the benefits that you seek.

If I want discounted wines, shop at Costco or others. Your not generally going to get great "values" at specialty wine shops such as Highdesertwine. What you will get is great advice and, if you are a regular customer, some allocations not otherwise available.

I go into a small wine shop in South Pasadena about once a week or so and pick up a bottle or two of higher-end Pinot. The owner has gotten to know me and although I'm not one of his high volume buyers, he will let me know when Loring or other Pinots that are in demand are going to be released so I can get my share before they are sold out. To me, that is VALUE, not the 10% or so I would get on a case purchase.


the only thing i can say is that for now you have to accept the fact that you are a small fish. life is not fair and i guess that this can be a sort of a learning experience for you. people who order more and spend more get more of a discount and more special perks. 'nuff said, that is how the world works my friend. and frankly i am happy because while i am not a whale i am a big fish to my retailer and he bends over bacwards with discounts and special bottles for me. and i, as a bigger fish, would be quite angry with him if he extended the same service to someone like you as well.
Big Fish: I'm sure Montrachet knows many things that you don't, but would never presume to teach you a 'LESSON IN LIFE'. Do you use the same condescending tone to people on Vinocellar, or is it reserved for these forums?

Montrachet, with regards to the question at hand, I think that discounts are often given to (frequent) customers who are personable with the staff...maybe ask questions, and carry no attitude.
now that i am home and have time to answer. i tried explaining it as nicely as i could but apparently he was not getting the point. this is the way the world works, period.

do any of you ever go to las vegas? i guess i am to assume that casinos should treat somebody who sticks $100 in here and there between 6 different casinos, the same as someone who drops 10-20 large per trip at one casino. there is a reason some people get free rooms and others pay full boat. do you people not know how the world works yet?
If my memory is working correctly, Byerlys offers a discount on 4 bottles. Not always the best selection, but I have found that different stores receive different things. For example, the Chanhassen store receives good pinot for Oregon, and they have/had a bunch of 00 bordeaux. I always seem to score some Turley at the SLP store. Chateau Montelena seems to show up at Ridgedale.
If anyone is reading this thread for the first time and wants the summary, here it is:

M61: I'm right.

Someone else: You're wrong.

M61: No, I'm right.

Another person: Maybe you are, maybe not.

Someone else: I'm right.

M61: I'm right

AI: I'm always right.

M61: I'm right.

It was an interesting thread until about 2days ago when it should have died. Please, no more, let it die.

Yes, but I came here for an argument.

Oh! Oh! I'm sorry, this is abuse.
I think 2004, for me, will see a continued shift to buying more wines direct from cool small CA like Pride Mt. and internet sites like Premeier Cru stocking rare French Burgundies unavailable in the twin cites. You can't find Burgundy - Chablis producers like; Raveneau, Mortet, Rousseau, Mortray, Clos De Tart, and Dugat Py in the Twin Cities. If I lived in SF/NY/CHGO I could buy 95% of what I want locally.

My local purchases will be increasingly limited to widely distributed value wines like; Whitehall Lane, Justin, Seghesio, Verget, Beaucastel, VDP, Hanna etc. That said, I will still probably buy 3-6 bottles per week locally.

Thanks again for your perspective.

thanks for clearing that up. my wife agrees with you by the way.

by the way remember i started my first answer by saying don't take this the wrong way, but as usual you guys did.

thanks for the entertainment.


i will be sending you an email. you sound like a very competent wine merchant. as one small business owner to another i understand where you are coming from even if most don't.

I have bought wine from hdw and he certainly does know how to run his business. I have also bought from FSU's larger company and think they are also well-run. Too bad everybody in the business doesn't have their acumen.

A word about anthony. He is a friend of mine and a very helpful and extremely generous person. He is also a really big fish when it comes to wine buying. I'm amazed at the cellar he's amassing. He knows whereof he speaks.

Just one more sip.
Last edited {1}
I used to go on mini-binges, buying a half dozan wines at a time a few times per month. It didn't take me long to decide that I could make the adjustment and buy my monthly "allottment" of 18 bottles at one time at one store to get the case discount.

An added benefit is that when I come in, there's a salesperson waiting for me ready to give me a complete rundown on their sale items and new inventory. Not only do I get the discount, but I also throw away less money on bad wines. I'm only spending about $200/month, but they treat me like a high-roller. Smile

The store from which I buy in any given month may not have the best prices in town, but after the 10% discount, it comes close.

Rather than expect expecting the store to adjust their practices, it might be easy enough for you to make the adjustment. Try it, you'll like it! Wink
Having worked part-time in a small but very well-stocked wine shop, I can tell you some of the best customers we love are not the ones who drop $$$ (though we love them too Smile), but the folks who really enjoy food and wine and love talking about them. Our manager exchanges wine in the shop to a customer who bring him wild duck and geese from his annual hunting trip. Now that's a cool relationship! Cool

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.