I’m headed to Boston for the day to join TJ for the Best of Boston party tonight. Before I hop on the plane, a few thoughts…
If I could say anything to the owners of Groupon, I would say this…”Thank you for helping us win a Best of Boston for Best Wine Shop – West.”
Seriously, I really would say that. Because I firmly believe that every horrible scrape you get yourself into in life can come with a silver lining if you play your cards right.
The night before we ran the Groupon last year, we realized that it might be illegal under ABCC regulations and tried to get our representative at Groupon to stop it. He and his bosses assured us over and over again that it was legal, and despite our asking them to suspend the Groupon, they didn’t choose to take our advice. That is, until they had sold over 2,000 of them in a matter of hours, realized it was in fact illegal, and pulled the deal. It made them look bad. It made us look worse (remember this happened months before the ABCC provided real clarity on this issue). For a young company it was a moment when our whole business plan could have combusted right before our very eyes. I felt such immense guilt that I could barely look at TJ.
Disheartened, we decided the best way to deal with the situation was with transparency, and that became our tactic through the entire crisis. We posted a very honest blog about our Groupon regrets and tried hard to calm every frayed Groupon nerve. The crisis blew over quickly, and the chatter became more about how well we handled it than anything else. We hoped we would never have to talk about Groupon again, and stuck with that plan for many months.
That is, until Boston Magazine called and asked if they could interview us for a story about Groupon. Remembering our original commitment to transparency, we said yes. We gave the journalist from Boston Magazine an honest and informative interview about our experience, always keeping it positive while focusing on the many ways in which our business was thriving despite the fiasco. That interview turned into a tour and a tasting. And a relationship was born.
It was a long road from that point to winning Best of Boston (a road shepherded by a God-send named Nicole!) but I will always believe that the seed for this moment was planted then.
TJ and I couldn’t be prouder of our staff or more thankful to our customers. I’m so proud of him for all that he has accomplished in the first year of The Urban Grape, and he is likewise as proud of me. It feels great to win a Best of Boston. Really, really great! It also feels like it is just the beginning. Over a quiet celebratory lunch yesterday, TJ and I never once talked about the past year, just our plans for the future.
More than anything, it reinforces our belief that if you are open and honest with people, and run your business with transparency and integrity, even mistakes can be turned into fortuitous moments.