Rewind to 2008.  It was the grand opening of  MARKET STREET in Frisco, TX.  Later in the day of this event I learned that United Supermarkets in Lubbock, TX, had made multiple promotional efforts to herald the new store.  Direct mail, social media, newspaper inserts, and more.  They wanted a crowd on this special day and they got one.

I arrived half an hour early and found my way back to the spanking new wine department.  As I rounded the final turn,  before I could see my table setup for engraving bottles that day, I noticed a line of at least 25 shopping carts in single file, each with a customer pushing theirs, leading from pharmacy, through bacon, baloney, and seafood.  The head of the line was at my table.  Each cart had from 1 to a dozen bottles of wine to be inscribed.

My wine events had become routine at other Market Street stores.  Finding a line of people and literally cases of wine waiting for me was not.  I greeted everyone, unpacked, plugged in, and went to work.  Baskets were coming and going as each person waited behind their shopping car, in front of my table, watching their bottle(s) being engraved.

  All was going well and then the wine manager, Roy Mohr, tapped me on the shoulder from behind.  Quietly, he asked if I would mind an interruption and doing a bottle for a special customer who had brought the bottle from home.  Well!  That’s not allowed, but he temporarily amended the rule.  Of course I told him I’d do it.  Then he paused and said, “Ken, it’s a $2000. bottle of Bordeaux.”  I gulped.  Almost panicked.  Took a deep breath and, with all the confidence of that being ‘just another bottle of wine,’  said, “Sure!”

In about 2 seconds, when I realized I had no wiggle room for a mistake, and no funds I could quickly dig for to buy a replacement that certainly would NOT come from that wine department, a sense of extreme concern engulfed me.  You could call it quiet panic.

I stood, smiled, and asked all the shoppers near me to move away from my table.  Told them I had an important interruption that would take a few minutes.  Asked for quiet and stillness as they watched.

Nestled the bottle into my pillow and took a very deep breath after visualizing where the line breaks would be for the brief message.  From the moment the drill touched this gift bottle to the customer’s father-in-law, until the few words were engraved, I zoned out as though I was the only person in the store.  Concentrated to a headache!  In three minutes it was done, perfectly.   I held it up and announced to those waiting in line that it was a $2000. bottle of wine. They all clapped and cheered.  I sat down and smiled with great relief for the photo op.


The next KEN BROWN PROFESSIONAL ENGRAVING WORKSHOP is April 13-16.  Learn what I do….everything except how to fake calmness.  You’re on your own for that.

Note the special offer in the blog that immediately preceded this one.


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