“Our goal is to connect new brands to new individuals and get people to enjoy drinks that are other than “the usual.”
If you’re looking for something new to have your bartender prepare for you, or you just want to seem like a more sophisticated drinker, this new mom-and-pop startup has the booze for your taste buds, all on a monthly-basis.
Shots Box, a monthly subscription service and retail experience, brings craft spirits from around the world directly to your doorstep. It’s founders, JC Stock, a serial entrepreneur, and Casper Rankin, a lawyer by day and craft distiller by night, help to make this company something truly unique. GritDaily spoke with Stock about why this venture is so unique to its time.
From the age of seven, Stock went from delivering newspapers, to mowing lawns (age 9), and now owns and operate over five (5) national service companies which consist of over 30-employees and four locations from coast to coast. However, his latest venture is about pouring some education and new booze into your glass.
AR: What inspired you to start Shots Box?
JC: For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been running a business. I’m driven by success, a desire for growth, and the luxury of simplicity. My first job was at the age of seven (7) delivering newspapers, and then at age nine (9) mowing lawns.
By 2006, I began my first national service company and within five (5) years had grown this business from a single employee to ten (10). Today, I own and operate five companies which consist of over 30 employees and four (4) locations from coast to coast, across multiple industries including finance and real estate. I don’t have a background in the spirits industry, but I personally love craft spirits. I’m also a passionate home brewer. I know the pride and satisfaction one feels when someone tries and enjoys one of your carefully crafted brews.
My co-founder in Shots Box, Casper Rankin, is a lawyer and the legal brains behind the operation. He has a set goal to open his own distillery in the next decade.
AR: So, I ordered my box. What comes in it?
JC: In each monthly box, you get ten (10) mini-bottles of craft liquor for $39.99 a month, for early subscribers. Each box is different so you get to sample different distilleries every month.
If you like a particular alcohol, you can order the full size bottle from ShotsBox.com. Currently we are working with more than 48 distilleries and 74 spirits (which covers our first six-seven monthly boxes) and are adding more every day.
AR: In today’s business world, it’s no longer enough to simply provide product value. Consumers look for passion and heart within brands. Can we find the same in your box?
JC: When my son was one years old, he became ill and was sent to the Children’s Hospital in Utah, which is the best. They did an amazing job taking care of him but the bill cost me upwards of $25K. Luckily, I’ve had success in business and was able to afford to pay it, but many people can’t pay that.
Every year, they have a program called Pennies By the Inch where people can donate and the proceeds go to the hospital to help cover fees for people who can’t afford medical bills. Over the years, I’ve made many donations there and to St. Jude’s. This experience changed me and made me realize that in business it’s truly important to also give back. I began to think about what are some of the most basic needs and water is really important.
So many people don’t have access to clean drinking water which is a basic, fundamental need. When I launched Shots Box, I made it a priority to partner with a charity that could help with this cause, like a ‘bottle for bottle’ program.
We did some research and decided to partner with The Thirst Project based in Los Angeles. In November we announced a commitment to raise $12K for Thirst Project in 2019. For every two full size retail spirits bottles sold on ShotsBox.com, one person will enjoy clean drinking water for a year. The $12K pledge will build a well that will support a community in Africa, a min of 500 people with drinking water for life.
AR: How does the marketing differ from that of other competitors and distillers?
JC: We help introduce these mom-and-pop distillers to cocktail lovers. We also work with distillers to make sure the process of bottling, labeling, and legal questions are as seamless as possible in order to secure a spot in the box. This is exposure a small distillery otherwise wouldn’t have. Effective marketing for craft distillers is becoming more and more difficult as craft distillers simply don’t have the budget that the major alcohol brands do. Additionally, these craft distillers who are investing in their product, and not marketing efforts, don’t have the time, resources or funds for “traditional” marketing efforts.
AR: Keeping in mind the competition, why should the consumer turn their taste buds to Shots Box?
JC: Our goal is to connect new brands to new individuals and get people to enjoy drinks that are other than “the usual.” It means you can try new brands risk-free, before making the commitment to buying a full-sized bottle. Subscribers also have access to custom DIY recipes and the Shots Box community where they can share reviews of each sample and browse reviews left by other alcohol enthusiasts.
In addition, if someone is on a budget or comes up against a financial hardship unexpectedly, Shots Box does give subscribers the option to pause service for a month or several months and then resume when ready. This gives our customers peace of mind when ordering. They can also cancel the service at any time. There is no contract because we feel confident our customers will be satisfied and remain with us monthly. This is not the case with many of our competitors.
AR: Many consumers are turned off to the idea of “subscription-based” services. Why?
JC: I think the biggest fear with subscription box companies is signing up for say a year and then finding the company has disappeared or gone out of business in two months.
[We are very confident] with Shots Box because unlike other companies, we are not simply just a middleman between the consumer and the retailer. We are the retailer. We have a successful retail business (online and brick and mortar store location in Orange County selling full-size bottles) and we use the subscription box service as a marketing tool but not the primary business.
AR: Talk to us about the licensing and regulation
JC: As a sole retailer, we are regulated by the federal and state government by the alcohol bureaus, so by law, we can’t sell more product than we have. For example, we can’t sell a year subscription and take your money up front like some of these subscription-only services do, if we can’t guarantee that product. We also offer support to the craft distillers and to the craft community.
AR: Where in the U.S. can you ship products out to?
JC: Currently we ship to California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico and are quickly expanding throughout the U.S. We also have a retail store in southern California.
AR: Lastly, through this process, have you discovered any brands or distillers you enjoy?
JC: Whiskey. Through all the events and tastings, I have discovered craft-barreled whiskeys have more flavor than the big name brands. It’s always a complex flavor from beginning to end.