By Kori ~ September 8th, 2010.
Periodically, we feature wine gadgets that we have personally found to be helpful to have in our wine toolkit. As you browse the aisles of your local wine shop or thumb through a wine store catalog, you will see hundreds of wine accessories or gadgets. For the first time, we are featuring a â€œwine gadgetâ€ company that designs and sells many of those products.
Earlier this year, True Fabrications sent us samples of a few of their products. Since we were impressed with the quality of their products and they are located in Seattle, we decided to visit and learn more about the company. We had an opportunity to sit down with Nik Patel, marketing director and one of the founders, and Cyrus Shepard, website manager.
Founded in 2004 by three college buddies from Berkeley, True Fabrications has grown to become the second largest wine accessory company in North America. Co-founder Dhruv Agarwal came up with the idea for the company after attending dinner parties in San Francisco. Like many of us, he would take a bottle of wine to the host of the party. He found it odd that wine was the only gift he would take to people that he did not wrap. At the time, wine bags were not available in stores as they are today. So he sketched some designs and approached stores about carrying them. When they said â€œyes,â€ he knew that he was onto something and approached his friends Nik Patel and Ben Inadomi about starting a wine bag company. Shortly thereafter, the three friends moved to Seattle and True Fabrications was born.
Their business grew rather quickly and after a couple of years, they were faced with a major decision. Patel remembers, â€œWe had to sit down and ask ourselves, â€˜Who do we want to be? Do we want to be a gift bag company like Hallmark or do we want to be a wine-related company?â€™â€ They chose to be a wine-related company; and today, they sell a line of hundreds of wine-related products, which are available in over 8,000 retail locations.
Gift bags are still a large part of their business, and they focus a lot of time on offering cool new designs. â€œWe want to stay the authority on wine bags,â€ said Patel. â€œBut at the same time, we are adding all kinds of stuff and our accessories are on the way up.â€ Their development team designs many of the items they sell; others are designed and produced by other companies. â€œWe brand many, but not all, of the items we sell. If itâ€™s a cool product and we like it, weâ€™ll offer it.â€
After flipping through their most recent catalog, I realized that I have seen and purchased more True Fabrications products than I initially thought, from wine bags to wine glass charms to corkscrews to â€œWhatâ€™s Your Vine?â€ t-shirts.
The sales team, product designers, and development people work out of the Seattle office. They manage production of the products throughout the United States and in eight foreign countries. Their designers are always looking for new ideas; so if you have an idea for a new wine-related product, send your suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For wholesale customers, True Fabrications strives to be their one-stop shop. They sell to any retailers that sell wine including wine shops, wineries, grocery stores, and some gift stores. You may have seen their products in some large stores like Whole Foods, QFC, Kroger, and Cost Plus, but they also sell to thousands of small, independent stores.
True Fabrications understands that many of the retailers that carry their products are not able to spend much time making decisions about accessories. â€œWe understand that this is not their core product line,â€ said Patel. â€œThey sell wine, beer, and liquor. Thatâ€™s why people come into their stores. These people are very busy. We want to be their source for all wine accessory items so they donâ€™t have to think about it.â€ Shepard adds, â€œWith our catalog, they can order everything in one place. I think this company does a very good job of helping those people out, rotating their product, given them sales tips, and exchanging items that are not selling.â€
While their business is predominately wholesale, they also sell directly to consumers through their website. â€œOne of our goals is to increase our direct to consumer sales online,â€ said Patel. â€œIt has been a very small part of the business, but we want to make it a bigger part.â€ So the next time you are looking for a wine gadget to add to your own wine toolkit or need to find a gift for a wine-loving friend, you might want to check out True Fabrications.
Filed under: Wine Gadget, Wine Gifts/Accessories