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Jan 4, 2012

Behind the scenes with wine.woot.com

Wine.Woot founders, brothers David (left) and George Studdert, sampling wines. Photo: Christa Jeremiason/PD.
 One of the Internet's earliest and most successful flash sales sites, wine.woot, keeps a deliberate low profile. So low, in fact, that I had no idea the company was founded and based in the town of Sonoma, California, where I live. An offhand remark at a party tipped me, and I ended up doing a story about wine.woot for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat--it ran on Sunday, January 1.

Here's an excerpt:
Prior to starting wine.woot, George had successfully run national sales programs for major corporations before founding his own boat lift company in 2001. David had earlier worked at Airborne Express, specializing in direct-to-consumer wine shipping. In 1998, when the states’ attorneys general declared this practice to be illegal, he started his own company to “help wineries ship legally to consumers in non-reciprocal states.”

The company did well until the U. S. Supreme Court’s 2005 Granholm ruling opened the door for wineries to ship directly to consumers. While that was great news for wineries and consumers, it essentially put David out of business.

But another door opened almost simultaneously. David had recently read a Wall Street Journal article about a new company, woot.com, that had pioneered the one-discounted-deal-a-day online business model in 2004 (woot.com was purchased by Amazon in 2010). He was intrigued by the one-daily concept and loved the site’s humorous sales approach.

“I was talking to George, worrying about the end of my business,” David recalled. “Suddenly he said: ‘Why don’t we sell wine on woot?’ He was half-joking, but I had a major epiphany, with bells and whistles going off in my head.”

The next day David sent an email to woot’s founder, Matt Rutledge, who immediately saw the possibilities in wooting wine. Talks ensued and, in May 2006, “almost a year later to the day,” wine.woot became the first offshoot launched by woot.
You can read the full story here.
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