Sangria on the beach

By Zac Hartley

Over the last two months, I have had the good fortune to embark on a backpacking trip through Europe with a friend. We traveled through the U.K., France, Belgium, Netherlands, Greece, Italy and Spain and any time we were in a big city, we noticed the same thing. Street Vendors.

In Paris they were selling miniature Eiffel Towers, in Rome they were selling fake designer bags, in Greece they were selling selfie sticks and on the beaches of Barcelona, they were selling beer.

Looking at these guys peddling bottles of lukewarm beer as they walked through the sand in the heat of summer was almost disheartening. You would see them sell 1 or 2 beers every 15 or 20 minutes and then they would have to run away every time a cop walked by the beach. All of a sudden you would see everybody's heads poke up and about 20 people carrying plastic bags full of beer and coolers could be seen sprinting down the beach.

What amazed me about these street vendors though, was that there always seemed to be one person who had really figured it out. In Barcelona it was a young guy with a clean shave and slicked back hair that had come up with the idea to sell Sangria, instead of cheap beer and coolers out of a shopping bag. He had a clean white tray with clear plastic cups filled to the brim with sangria and sliced fruit. Each glass had a lime and an orange wedge as well as 3 brightly colored straws that drew in people's attention as he walked by.

Over the course of about 10 minutes, this "bartender" had sold his entire tray of sangria while most of the other guys had likely only sold 1 or 2 beers, and he did it at three times the price of a beer. This was a glowing example that really showed me that just because everyone else is doing something one way, doesn't mean that it's the right way or the best way to do it.

This has also been shown to work on a larger scale such as Tesla Motors selling their cars in malls instead of dealerships, or Apple making completely closed system computers in the 80's and 90's. The real challenge isn't in looking at how everybody else is doing something and trying to do it better. The challenge is in figuring out what the problem is and what is the best solution to address that problem. In our case, people were thirsty, but didn't want warm beer from a sketchy beach bum. The the best solution was something cold, that tasted great, and wasn't pulled out of a shopping bag.