“What do you have that’s local?” is one of the first questions a visitor asks as they take a seat in Doc Holliday’s Saloon after spending a day touring Tombstone.
Tombstone Aces & 8’s Ale is the answer.
The brew specially created by Old Bisbee Brewing Company Owner/brew master Victor Winquist has formed a profitable relationship by providing Doc Holliday’s Saloon and the bar, Four Deuces, with a local and historic beer to sell to their customers.
And the relationship is going strong.
Attracting tourists to Bisbee and Tombstone was a major goal set in Old Bisbee Brewing Company’s business plan from the very beginning. For a small tourist town like Tombstone, people travel from all over Arizona and the world to take a trip back into the 1880s Wild West. And what better way to experience a culture than with its local brew.
“It’s a good relationship that helps our business greatly,” said Mike Carrafa, owner of Doc Holliday’s Saloon. Carrafa said he’s glad he jumped on board with Winquist a couple of years ago because since then it’s turned out to be very profitable for both parties.
“We send business to them, they send business back to us. It’s a scratchy scratchy back kind of thing,” said Buster Garvin who is in charge of the marketing and distribution of Old Bisbee Brewing Company.
Garvin prides himself on the relationships he has with his customers, which is just one of the many marketing techniques he has in his toolbox.
“People buy from people they like, people buy from people they trust, people buy from people similar to themselves,” said Sam Williams, University of Arizona Eller College of Management Sales Professor, referring to an old sales mantra on how to be successful.
The Brewing Company sits at the heart of the entertainment scene of Old Bisbee.
Stepping inside the place customers are bombarded with its marketing.
An open set of shelves is filled with t-shirts, pint glasses and hats with their distinct and simple logo plastered on. A curved bar is spotlessly clean as waitresses happily pouring one beer after another.
It’s 5 p.m. on a Friday and the bar is filled with locals and visitors alike. At a table off to the side two dogs, Scruffy and Penny, sleep comfortably on high chairs accompanying local contractor Dan Oldfield as he sips on a dark beer in hand.
“I’ve been coming here everyday since they’ve opened,” said Oldfield who has seen many businesses come and go in Bisbee during his time. This one’s been a real success, he smiles and jokes that it might be partially from his business alone.
“Everyday I spend $13 on two beers here, multiply that by 365, that’s about 5 grand. I’ve been coming here everyday for the past five years,” he laughs. “It’s only money.”
Andrew Slanina sits at the end of the curved copper bar gulping down the “Indigenous Holy Grail IPA.” He said him and his friend took a quick trip for the night from Tucson and that this place, “Is pretty much why we came down here.”
For a company that only started six years ago it has been making quite a name for itself throughout Arizona. Besides Tombstone they also distribute to bars in Tucson’s downtown area and are expanding to Phoenix. Their tap has also hit spots like World of Beer and Whole Foods in Tucson.
Garvin said their initial marketing technique was to go to Tucson and Phoenix to bring attraction to Bisbee and Tombstone, which it has, but based on the growing demand they’ve been pushed to expand outward as well.
So what are the ingredients that make up such a successful company?
Well apparently one is the ingredients themselves.
Winquist’s newest and highly popular creations the, “Indigenous Holy Grail IPA,” all started when he was going on one of his usual hikes through the Bisbee mountains and came across wild hops. He, of course, harvested them and came up with “the holy grail of IPA’s.”
It’s a flavor he plans on bringing with him to the Great Tucson Beer Festival on Oct. 17.
Carrafa said that he looks forward to expanding his relationship with Old Bisbee Brewing Company to even having Winquist create a special Doc Holliday’s Saloon brew and adding even more taps to their bar.
Garvin, says another one of their keys to success is to “keep it personal.” He hand-delivers every order to each customer, which gives him a competitive advantage by getting direct feedback from businesses and their consumers.
From his feedback he knows that Tombstone’s Aces & 8’s works because tourists come to the town for its history which is fun for them to drink as well.
“Dark with almost a sweet quality to it. But it’s very, very smooth. With real rich malts, not a lot of hops,” is how Winquist described what he calls a heritage beer. Designed after the Aug. 2, 1876, South Dakota shooting of Wild Bill Hickok. Winquist creatively cultivated the beer after the story of Wild Bill’s last poker game before he was shot in the back while holding what is now known as the “Dead Man’s Hand.”
“Fulfilling ones needs,” is what Professor Williams said is another crucial element to a good sales business-to-business relationship.
A need like the one a tourist has when they come into Tombstone or Bisbee and wants to not only see the history but to taste it. A need that Doc Holliday’s Saloon and the bar, Four Deuces, has when a customer comes in and wants something local.
A need Old Bisbee Brewing Company fulfills.
Emily Lai is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.