John Nese interview with Klaatu Magazine
(PHOTO BY MARTHA BENEDICT)
(Translated version from Google Translator – view original French interview here.)
Klaatu Magazine: Can you introduce yourself?
John Nese: I’m John Nese, owner of Galco’s store Soda Pop Stop in Los Angeles. We are here since 1955 and we sell sodas for about fifteen years.
KM: Why this type of product?
JN: At first, we were in the grocery store and what happened is that the big supermarkets and distribution channels soda manufacturers have small grocery offside. They destroyed the price cap. What you can do when someone tries to destroy you? We would be ruined! And I said, the United States, there is a circuit of micro-breweries, as in the 70s, and I did that for twenty years for beer soda … why not? As long as people have money to buy, I sell, it makes no difference. And the demand was much greater in California for that. At the same time, a seller of Pepsi came to me saying, “I will offer you the best offer they can give you, I give you just pay $ 5.59 Checkout”. I asked him how much profit I could make it, a hundred boxes. He told me $ 30 … Thank you but no thank you. I prefer to sell to my customers cheaper than the supermarket. Otherwise, what’s the point they just buy from me? He replied, “you can not do that! Pepsi is the leader and people will ask you if you have Pepsi! “So I told him that I was honest with my clients and if they could buy cheaper, they did not need me. He turned and went out. And then I had a revelation: “You know, you should rejoice to have your own space and to be able to sell what you want. You do not need them. ” I found twenty-five brands of sodas independent, who were still shooting in glass bottles, which used only cane sugar, real ingredients. Now, we have nearly six hundred sodas available.
KM: It was a blessing in disguise, then? JN: I’ll tell you, it can be very rewarding to be ruined. It makes a lot more, we realize that we are capable of much more because we are faced with a fait accompli!KM: Where does your passion for sodas?
JN: It’s not a passion. But when I was eight, I was in a summer camp called Camp Happy and I remember seeing the water vapor coming out of the ground, this natural source. I tasted and – goodness! – I thought I could make a pipe from this source to my school and I have soda as I want! I do not know how it is in France, but when I was a kid in our tiny fridge, we had milk, water and if we were lucky, orange juice. So I waited impatiently for the summer holidays! Because in addition to the time, my uncle always came with a case of soda, placed on the table, décapsulait a bottle and said “you can drink when you finish your plate.” You open the bottle in front of me and I can not taste? Nooo, it’s not fair!
KM: So now you seem tasteless water?
JN: Oh no! My God, no! I love the water, especially sparkling water. I’ll make a confession, I love sodas but I need to find something better for your health! It was the French sparkling water here, St. Géron and another I can not remember the name. Natural, and more! They are so sweet …
KM: You have a lot of sodas French in your store? Because I saw that you had the Orangina.
JN: Oh yes, it was. It was also the Lorina and Rième. Your sodas are very good, indeed!
KM: And what type of customers coming into your store?
JN: Everyone! What soda makes you think when you think about it?
KM: Sweetness and happiness.
JN: That’s great because when people push the door of the store, they smile. This is a good thing because they spend their money being happy. They find what they are looking for and sometimes they leave with something else! The principle here is “freedom to choose” (this sentence is writ large on the inside of the store, Ed). In supermarkets shelves are monopolized by Pepsi and Coca-Cola. In doing so, they control our consumer choices. And I said “No! “I would never do that. We have over five hundred sixty brands of sodas, all from small producers. I never would sell Pepsi, Coke or other soda big company. If anyone is involved independent there, I do not sell.
KM: You are the perfect alternative to it?
JN: I do not know. What I know is that when I spend money, I’m sure someone else can win it. The middle class shrinks, small businesses were made by large eat. And they take control of everything. It must stop.
KM: What do you think of the tax soda? It is supposed to push the brands of soda to produce less, for health reasons?
JN: Some health reasons?! Nobody forces people to drink soda! The only thing to do is say no. There is a McDonald’s across the street and five years ago, a cup of almost three liters of Coca-Cola had been highlighted by the restaurant. An official Coca-Cola went to the store and I told him “you encourage people to drink a half gallon of soda! When the first soda bottles came out, they were 20cl then 30 then 35 then 50 then 60cl. Why you do not give them a shot and they want to meet again, they have the full choice. It is their choice, not yours. ‘KM: So the Board John Nese to continue to drink soda while remaining healthy is to drink less?
JN: Yes! Watch as soda companies proceed. Initially, you could buy the bottle unit. Then they went to pack: First six, then eight, then twelve and eighteen and twenty-four. And now, there are packs of thirty-two bottles! Why are they doing this? Because they want to sell more. They claim it is to save money for the customer but it is mainly used to annihilate the competition.
KM: OK, slight issues now. What is the most incredible soda you have tasted? JN: (thinks for a long time) Oh, there are so … Maybe julep of ale in Maine, but this brand is very confidential in the USA. Australia Bundaberg sodas are absolutely incredible, mixing with natural and real fruit … This is a very difficult question! There is also the Moxie cola, based on extracts of violet and brown sugar. The first time you taste it, it’s incredible. This is a sipping soda that which is not drunk in one gulp … We feel aroma of cola, root beer, cinnamon, vanilla, licorice and black cherry.
KM: A bit like a whiskey?
JN: That’s it! With a large bouquet of aromas. But if you drink it in one gulp, it looks a cough syrup gas! Honestly, I tasted Moxie when he was done with corn syrup and has a taste of Pepsi to cut the water!
KM: The Irn Bru is a bit the same effect. You ever tasted?
JN: I’ve tasted it once or twice but it is very difficult to get here because it is sent in plastic bottles. And if you put something in plastic, it tastes like plastic. No no no, I do not like plastic. Even if sometimes we do not have a choice. You know, I have bottles of soda water glass here, thick and all. It’s funny because when I listen to the big companies say “with our plastic bottles, we are more environmentally friendly,” I look at my bottle of Seltzer, I turn and I see written “Czechoslovakia, 1939.” So tell me what is the most environmentally friendly? Glass bottle from 1939 or the plastic bottle which has been melted and recast? Someone should explain to me how the plastic is greener! That’s something to Bill Gates! As soon as we can, we will make money on your back. “We’ll sell you a new operating system, whether you need it or not! “My Microsoft operating system dates back to 1999 and it works very well!
KM: Y he a soda that you do not like?
JN: No, I did not even know her! I think if I had more time, I would like to test more. There is always something more interesting than what we already have. There is a brand of soda not gas, is headquartered in West Covina, a suburb of Los Angeles, but they do not sell here. Their biggest sales are in Tokyo or Thailand because they offer flavors strawberry, lychee or even exotic fruits. And waw is super good, it’s different!
KM: A non-carbonated soda can be?
JN: What kind of soda, as Pennsylvania Punch, even less carbonation bubbles that low. They just enough gas as a conservative, just enough to give you that little “psst! “On the tip of the tongue!
KM: Are you interested in making your own soda?
JN: That would be fun! I gave several ideas to manufacturers of soda: sometimes it worked, sometimes not. We resurrected a brand of soda, White Rose, which existed until the late 60s, early 70s. We must never forget that our store has been here since 1955. And we have a museum here, registered in the National Registry of Historical Sites, and they have the most amazing collection of Native American artifacts in the world! It was recovered by the local community and they promised to keep the museum open. The first thing they did is: pack it up and close the museum. I told them they were not reliable, they did not keep their promise. So I wanted to do something. So we made this new soda, attracted many people as possible and paid a share of revenue for the museum’s reopening. And that’s why we only had embarked on the production of soda.
KM: If you could make the perfect soda, what would it be?
JN: The perfect soda? Impossible. You know the root beer? I have an anecdote. One day, a customer enters the store and asks me “what is the best root beer you here? “So I referred her. She came back much later and told me that it was the worst root beer she never drank in his life! You know what? Never recommend something. Just say it has the taste and the client will choose. His decision is not mine. It’s like the cucumber soda, I know it’s good! Ilie is a manufacturer of Romania, the product. His soda soda became the year when it was a small guy who nobody wanted to give it a chance. Now we are in talks with a Greek manufacturer to sell its soda licorice. I do not like licorice, yet I tested, I called the manufacturer in the minute that followed him and said, “You may have the soda of the year.” Everyone to his own opinion on what is good.
KM: But according to you, which is perfect?
JN: I love mint, I find it so refreshing. When I taste a soda mint, people find him a taste of toothpaste or mouthwash. And I say to myself “but what are you saying? It’s delicious! “You know, there are so many flavors of soda in the world …
KM: This is it, the principle of Galco’s “freedom of choice”?
JN: It’s true. Customers make their own choices. That’s freedom: when YOU make the choice. Not when someone has something planned for you. Here, if you want, you can buy a single bottle, for example, no need to buy a twenty packs. You can spend your money as you see fit. Do not let anyone spend it for you. You play it like that.