Always in Beta

I want to begin this article with an actual thank you to a few people that know exactly who they are. I actually mean that. Now, that isn’t to say they’re my friends, or that I like them, but they inspired this post, and for that I thank them. They helped me realize that this site has deviated from my original intent.

This site started off as a passion project. Really, it is a natural fit. As a profession, I’m a research project manager for Penn State University. So, data collection, data analysis, and data reporting is what I do for a living anyway. With this project, I’ve just altered the target data from youth health and development, and community cultural adaptations to bourbon and whiskey.

To be brief, the original intent of this site was (and still is) to help people figure out what bottles they want to buy, know where they can find those bottles, and know how much they’ll have to pay before they walk in the door.

I wanted people to know that it’s absurd to pay $70 for a bottle of E.H. Taylor Small Batch, it’s ridiculous to pay $120 for Blanton’s. Not because they’re not good, they’re great, but for $70 there is better bourbon in my opinion than E.H. Taylor. There is better bourbon than Blanton’s for $120. Sure, it’s your money, do what you want with it, and tastes vary by person, but I’m confident most people would agree with me.

By providing comprehensive retailer reviews and the price list, my thought was that it would make for more knowledgeable bourbon buyers. Those more knowledgeable buyers would then know to avoid the specific stores that charge absurd prices and instead they would be more likely to go to the retailers that are more honest. The stores that charge outrageous prices would then have to make a decision about their prices. Basically, my goal is to be disruptive to the retailers that grossly overcharge, beneficial to the retailers that operate an honest business, and beneficial to us bourbon enthusiasts.

BUT then… the first week the site was running it got just a ridiculous number of views for a new website. Seriously, it started off better than I ever could have imagined.

All that traffic got to me. Not from a gain perspective, I don’t get anything from this site except personal satisfaction. Truly, the only thing I’ve benefited from this site is having access to buy a bottle of bourbon that I probably wouldn’t have known about otherwise. I didn’t get a special discount, but I did learn where to go and when to go to be able to buy a bottle (yes, I shared that information broadly).

The traffic caused me to change a few minor things about my approach to this also. At first, when I shared a retailer review that gouged prices, I made it clear that people should flat avoid a location. I changed away from that because I got feedback that it wasn’t objective, that I should only provide guidance based on what the prices actually show. But, this site is supposed to be a blend of objective AND subjective.

The traffic to the site got to me by it becoming an internal competition. Every post I made, retailer review, bottle review, article, etc, I posted the link to the St. Louis Bourbon Society Facebook page (seriously, if you aren’t already part of that group, you really should join right away). The main reason I shared my articles in the group was in an effort to maximize knowledge for the group, but I also knew it would get more traffic to the site.

Now, the funny thing about this is that, again, I receive no physical reward for additional traffic to the site. I only receive internal gratification, i.e. – knowing that the effort and time I’m putting in is benefiting people.

So, back to those couple people. They helped me realize that there are plenty of people who don’t like what I’m trying to do, how I’m doing it, or that I’m sharing too much within SLBS. Doesn’t really matter which it is, or if it is something else. What matters is that they helped me realize that I’ve deviated from my original intent. The intent was the disruption, not lots of site views.

I didn’t appreciate their approach, and I wish they had been brave enough to confront me directly, but I do appreciate that their actions caused me to rethink this site.

What all of this means for this site is that this will be the last article I share within SLBS. I may post a link within comments if someone is asking for locations for certain bottles, or asking advice on buying a specific bottle, but won’t be sharing any as actual posts.

If you like what I’m doing with this site, I encourage you to subscribe by entering your email address on the home page. I encourage you to follow my Twitter account (@StBuyers) so you receive up to date information when I’m out doing reviews. I encourage you to comment and like posts within this site, and if you want to provide feedback or constructive criticism, please feel free to send an email to dan@stlouisbourbonbuyers.com. And, of course, if you feel that this site is worthwhile and beneficial, you can share it wherever you choose, including within SLBS.

Another change is that I plan to operate this site on a schedule.

Every Monday – I’ll post some sort of written article like I did with The Honey Hole, All About Blanton’s, and Stop Ignoring the Bottom Shelf.

Every Wednesday – I’ll post new and updated Retailer Reviews.

Applicable Thursdays – I’ll post more in-depth analysis IF I have the data to support an article of this type. Articles of this nature are Top 10 Bourbons According to my Readers, and The Best Stores in the Region (so far).

Every Friday – I’ll post new and updated Bottle Reviews.

Finally, I originally envisioned that the Retailer Reviews and Bottle Reviews would be crowd sourced. People could complete retailer reviews while they’re shopping, or submit tasting notes while they’re enjoying a dram. No, not so that I learn your honey holes. I have my preferred locations already. They’re all close to me, with a great selection, with owners who operate honest businesses, and employed by friendly and knowledgeable people. So, if you’d like to help, here is the link to submit your own Retailer Review LINK, and to submit your own Bottle Review LINK.

Author: stlbourbonbuyers

Father, bourbon enthusiast, husband.

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