Mercantile & Co – Year End Letter – 2020

To: Mercantile & Co Supporters
From: Elijah Pfister
Re: Year to date and 2021 planning
Date: 12/13/2020

Hello Mercantile & Co Supporters,

Hopefully this note finds you and everyone you know healthy and in good spirits.  It’s been quite the year full of drama and heartache.  And still some good things emerged.  As we wrap up the year, I wanted to take a few minutes and update you on Mercantile & Co; its successes headed into year-end and outline some of the items we’re working on for 2021.

As many of you know, we launched at the beginning of this pandemic (April 2020) and despite going through a period of SIP, followed by various restrictions throughout the country on gatherings of more than just a few people, Mercantile & Co has continued to build awareness and sales despite our business model primarily based around sales professionals being able to perform in-home wine tastings with clients.  All I’ll say is, the digital age is remarkable(!) Despite the pandemic headwinds, we currently have over twenty, what I would call, “active entrepreneurs” signed up and marketing our wines via email, txt message, social media, zoom and socially distant/responsible tastings each month.  And while our wines ship to over 40 states in the US, our entrepreneurs are able to perform their presentations and virtual tastings from just about anywhere – incredible.  Nothing is as good as “in-person”, especially with wine, but it’s been a good starting point, and an education on what’s possible.  A hat tip to this resourceful group is due – thank you.

Big picture – In just eight months, Mercantile & Co has generated over $24,000 in commissions for its entrepreneurs and raised over $5,000 for various charitable organizations, mostly schools and non-profits.  While our goals for 2020 started out quite a bit larger, I am happy to have made these inroads during the pandemic among so much uncertainty.  No doubt 2021 will be a much better year for all of our partners as vaccinations make their impact and states eventually open up.

2020 Recaps/Thank You/Highlights/Overview/Progress:

  • Sales – As I mentioned above, we have over twenty, what I would consider as active salespeople, we call them “entrepreneurs”, and more than 50 signed up in total at Mercantile & Co. Most are based in California but additionally we have entrepreneurs in Florida, Nevada and Oregon.  More than 90% of these entrepreneurs are wine professionals, working in the trade, WSET trained and/or certified sommeliers.
  • Design – big thank you goes to Rohan and the team at Archival Studios. Many have commented on the Mercantile & Co website and all the design work, imaging and layout.  Great team!
  • Web Development & Marketing Team – We’ve been working with a great group of folks who helped develop not only our website but also, kept us on the rails with all manner of digital marketing pieces, social media, email, SEO, etc. I cannot be more thankful for Vian and the team at 83 Digital and all their support.
  • Finance – We now have the A-team @ Protea backing up Leslie, helping with everything from cutting PO’s, processing orders, billbacks and monthly financials. Special thank you to Jennifer and Zane for taking on this worthwhile challenge.
  • Social – We have relationships with several social media partners who meet our high standards, mention us and help promote all of our wines on both Instagram and Facebook. Thank you, Brendan, Paige, Kafi & Ashley @TopWineries, @WineWithPaige and @TheBlendGirls, respectively.  Really cannot say thank you enough for your guidance and help this year.  You’ve helped promote our cause, our wines to literally thousands of people.

Goals for 2020 Recapped:

  • Organic/Biodynamic/Sustainable Wines – we are still working towards our goal of having more than 90% of our offerings made up of organic/biodynamic wines. Our numbers are closer to ~70% year to date if you include sustainable and la lutte raisonnée wines.  And this certainly does speak to a larger truth and challenge for the wine industry and consumers.  While organic produce and food is important to many, we regularly hear from customers that they are less concerned about organic wine than they are price, taste, varietal and even packaging.  This is both frustrating and seemingly ludicrous, and I don’t have the data to back up why, but it’s a perception that Mercantile & Co is working to change.  Some have asked “why not all organic” and I maintain our model is to be inclusive, not pretentious and focusing rather on building the largest tent possible.  Bring people in w. a $12 California Cabernet, and then teach them slowly that you can get just as good a bottle, that’s organic (maybe it’s even French!) and only spend a couple bucks more. We will continue.  Education, education, education.  Along these lines, we’ll be developing more content and discussion pieces around the benefits of organics and increasingly, regenerative organics into 2021 and beyond.  Also, you’ll note that every product lists its farming practices currently and going forward, and we will only be adding organic products until we reach our goal of 90% or more.
  • Causes/Charities – As mentioned, year to date, we’ve donated more than $5000 to more than a dozen causes and charitable organizations, ranging in focus from women’s rights, to the environment. More, we now have over 20 different non-profits, schools and PTA’s that have signed up directly w. Mercantile & Co to help generate funds for their own specific cause/charity. AND – we now have a new role that we’ve just filled, that will help us to develop these relationships further in 2021 and grow our network of causes even larger in the years ahead.
    • We have a new cause for 2020 that we’re announcing! Maybe not so surprising, and certainly worth all of our effort going forward, we’ll be adding the below 9th cause for 2021 and beyond:
  • If any of you have any ideas surrounding additional causes or non-profits to support in 2021, please let us know @ [email protected]

Goals for 2021:

  • We clearly need more Sales/Marketing “entrepreneurs” and we need to increase our interactions, education and investment in this team to help them grow and generate greater sales. Our goal in 2021 is to grow to over 500 entrepreneurs throughout the US.
  • Continue to develop the tools, training systems and information our sales team and consumers demand. We can’t market and sell our products without providing the best in information and training.  Refining these tools in 2021 is a top priority and we are working on this now.
  • We are actively working to increase the number of non-profits, schools and causes that we work with in the US. Our goal in 2021 will be to build a network of over 500 “cause related” partners by year end.
  • With nearly 100 wines in rotation on our site at any given time, we expect to double this offering in the next twelve months. As mentioned, all additions will be organic or biodynamic until we reach our goal of 90% or more. Additionally, we are very close to being able to offer products other than wine including organic flours, beans, pasta, olive oil, dried fruit and honey.  Often times coming from our very own wine producer’s farms.
  • Develop more markets – With most sales still center around California, we’ll continue to work with our partners/entrepreneurs in states we ship. The goal in 2021 is to have more than 50% of our sales generated outside of California.
  • Improve and increase the frequency of posted content. This shared information will focus on our producers, their wines, organic farming, our causes, and our sales teams’ successes.  With our marketing team now in place I am confident we will have our calendar of communications solidly producing wins for Mercantile & Co in 2021 and beyond.  We’ve already moved forward and seen the results – growing our following tremendously in just a few weeks’ time.

In all ways, Mercantile & Co is very much just at the beginning of its journey, but I am already grateful to have been able to touch on what I believe to be a lifelong purpose.  To develop awareness for farmers/producers who are doing their best to improve the earth while giving back to noble causes that need all of our support.  For a wine professional, I believe this is as good as it gets.  Thank you for all your support and please, if you have any feedback or ideas to discuss, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.

All one, all love!

Elijah Pfister
Chief Entrepreneur @
www.mercantileandco.com
510.325.4845
[email protected]

selling | marketing | wines of change

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