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Trustee wrong on 6er beer deal

August 21, 2013
By Mark Gillis , Blue Line Brewery

I did not want to have to write this letter, but I must respond to Mr. Van Cott's letter from Aug. 20. For starters, Paul, don't you think you should have picked up the phone and contacted me to get both sides of the story before you write a one-sided letter to the editor (or at least read or reread the proposal I submitted to the board for review at the end of June)? With your erroneous letter, you are attacking a new business in town as you try to save face for the village. I would expect more from one of our village trustees. I did not ask the Enterprise to write the Aug. 17 article. They contacted me for comment after the article was basically written.

Now for the timeline of FACTS.

Mayor Rabideau first contacted me about the 6er program sometime at the end of February, early March about participating in the program. At that time, I proposed a formula that I am going to duplicate with other village programs. It is $1 for every growler bottle sold, and I am going to offer $1 for every refill during the 6er initial hiking season (two to three months). I am still willing to do that arrangement. Every growler sold from mid April to mid July had the 6er logo, even though the 6er beer was only about 20 to 25 percent of the sales. Contrary to Trustee Van Cott's belief, I have sold about 1,500 growler bottles in total. The 6er Pale, which can be called anything, only accounted for about 20 to 25 percent of those sales. I can count on one hand how many people came in specifically because it was the 6er. I was helping promote the 6er program by selling the 6er growler bottle out of my Tasting Room, regardless of what style of beer was being purchased.

Not once did I say to anyone that I wanted to renegotiate that agreement. Not once did anyone from the village send me a license agreement to that effect. I would sign that agreement now. I have heard from Trustee Pelletieri since that the village no longer wants to do a variable formula for the license agreement. The village wants a yearly fee.

Sometime in mid June, Mayor Rabideau sent me an email asking if I could pay up on the 6er license. I responded to him that I have not seen an agreement. He responded with a, "Sorry ... will get it to you shortly." What was sent to me, instead of the $1-per-growler formula, was a ridiculous 10 percent of all 6er sales (growlers AND wholesale kegs). Paul, this is where you could have called and got the facts right. I did not try to renegoiate. I NEVER SAID TO ANYONE that I would not honor that agreement. Instead the village tried to shove a 10 percent-of-all-6er-sales down my throat. Paul, please get the facts right before you attack a new business in town that has hired three to five different contractors during the buildout of the brewery, has plans for expansion (thus hiring more contractors) and has been able to hire a couple of local college kids.

I countered that unrealistic, 10-percent-of-all-sales proposal from the village with my own proposal (June 30) that was sent to the village board. That proposal would have put MORE MONEY in the village coffers than $1 per growler during the hiking season. How is that going back on anything? The village tried to go from $1 per growler sold in my Tasting Room during hiking season to 10 percent of all sales. NO ONE FROM THE VILLAGE EVER BROUGHT UP THE $1 PER GROWLER. If anything, the village was not being fair with me with that first license proposal. They were including growlers AND wholesale kegs to the pubs/restaurants in their FIRST license agreement. This could have amounted to $3,000 to $5,000.

The main issue with the 6er license fee was that it was only good for a year, and then I would be at the mercy of whatever the village wanted to charge going forward. You cannot try to build a brand in this scenario. It looks like the village understands this as they are going to issue three-year agreements (which I think is still too short).

As this was going on, I personally tried to meet with Mayor Rabideau to get this settled. He did not answer my email to meet on this issue. I have not spoken to the mayor since Memorial Day weekend, so I do not know how the mayor personally tried to negotiate with me. I have forwarded that email to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

The village rejected my proposal, which would have put $500, $1,000 and $1,000 into the village coffers for the next three years. This is only $500 ($166 per year) short of what they are seeking in their proposal. If the village REALLY wanted the local brewery to brew and distribute the 6er logo, they would jump on that proposal. I do not think that the village's "sincere" hope that I submit a bid is genuine.

I do not think that I would generate $500, $1,000 and $1,000 in extra profits (not sales) as a result of the 6er program. However, it is my way of giving back to the village. I am doing a similar program with Hobofest. Hobofest growlers should be available in my Tasting Room by Thursday. I am going to donate $1 of all growler bottle sales and refills of that bottle from Thursday until Halloween.

If anyone wants to come see me, I have letters, emails, etc., that back all of the above up.

More importantly, when I mention the "village" in this letter, I do not include Trustee Pelletieri. Trustee Pelletieri worked hard to try to have the rest of the village board come to agreement. Allie was the one who delivered my most recent proposal to the village ($500 short - $166 per year short) that got rejected on Aug. 12. Allie, thank you.

If the village wants the local brewery to brew the 6er beer, you know where to find me.

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Mark Gillis lives in Saranac Lake and is the founder and head taste tester of Blue Line Brewery.

 
 

 

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