Dear Proprietor of Wine Shop, Northfields Avenue,

I have been a frequenter of your business on several occasions over the last month. I count myself as someone who knows a thing or two more about wine than the average person on the street – or avenue in this case – and it is often my wont to unwind with a glass of wine after a day destroying my soul with a sedentary job of submission, inside an office nestled deep inside a concrete jungle.

Given the depressing options available for the wine lover in my area, I have resorted to visiting your shop for my alcoholic needs. While I have never been impressed or even satisfied with any experience at Wine Shop, Northfields, my visit last night compelled me to finally write to you about the utter disgrace that is your enterprise – which I at first took to be one in the chain of wine stores called The Wine Shop. (Evidently you have copy-catted their branding, yet chose to drop the definitive article when naming your shop.

Be it the way in which you store the wine, the length for which it has stood – unbought – on the shelves or the paltry quality of those you have chosen, every bottle bought from Northfields’ Wine Shop has been sharp and acrid, tasting closer to vinegar than the grape varietal adorning the label. My need for alcohol’s numbing qualities and my pecuniary means has encouraged me to previously surmount my better judgment and make use of your “deals”. Two bottles of Malbec for £10, for example. It is a burning conflict that any appreciative wine drinker on a tight budget has to countenance on a near daily basis. Gone are the days when everyone who has had an affluent upbringing goes on to have means befitting a fine wine appreciation…

The Northfields shop has the décor, odour, ambience and decrepit snack selection of a Blockbuster video store. When it still existed, that is.

Your employees are ignorant when it comes to the very important decision of selecting a wine to drink of an evening and I am not entirely sure whether they are aware that wines come in classifications besides red, white and “sweet”. When they are not pinging away on their Blackberries, they are rushing me to a decision with what they suppose is a helpful “do you need any help?” unaware that buying wine needs to be a thought through process.

Labels written on felt tip pen on reused bits of cardboard curl up and advertise what are often none too impressive discounts. You have an entire wall devoted to French wine, yet the rest of your coverage is patchy, erratic and quite appalling. No matter how enormous a range you have, it is no excuse for a sloppily organised collection in which it is nearly impossible to gauge what exactly is available. The selection and choice of name – Wine Shop – scream of an establishment whose owners clearly know nothing of wine.

What you appear to be suffering from is a misalignment of strategy. You are trying to market a certain type of product to a consumer segment that does not buy wine above a certain level of quality, or lack thereof. Each miserable occasion I have visited the shop – for lack of a better option within reasonable walking distance when wearing slippers and pijamas – it has been empty besides my good self. And the only other time another customer entered, it was to buy cigarettes and vodka. That such a business can exist while many other small, hardworking and deserving businesses fail in this economic climate is galling.

Taking into account the socio-economic demographic of Northfields, there is potential for your business to thrive. Or become less of an aberration than it currently is. Perhaps given that your sole other competitor is Tesco and the abhorrent Sainsbury’s further away – sadly, there are no other licensed shops in the immediate area – it explains why you feel as if you can perform so sub-standardly. Regardless, I felt it was my duty to let you know what a bad job you are doing and I hope, for the sake of your ability to sleep at night, you duly make the necessary improvements to your shop.

Yours Sincerely,

Imbiber of Wine