Friday, April 12, 2013

Bourbon Exchange on Facebook Hopes to Make Collecting Easier

People collect things. There is someone who collects just about anything you can imagine. There are people who collect distilled spirits such as whiskey, but they face challenges other collectors do not.

Their hobby is illegal.

It is against the law everywhere in the U.S. to sell alcohol without a license. If you do it anyway, you're probably breaking both federal and state laws. Some states, such as Tennessee, have limits on how much alcohol a person may possess.

These laws were not intended to discourage collecting and they are rarely enforced against legitimate collectors who trade, or buy and sell, alcoholic beverages, but they could be. Every so often, such as when Maker's Mark bottle collectors started to use newspaper classified ads to buy and sell, the local Alcoholic Beverage Control board (ABC) will issue a warning.

So it's hard out there for a whiskey collector.

Maybe social media can help.

That's the hope of John Scott Bull, who just this week launched The Bourbon Exchange on Facebook.

Bull's page is non-commercial, but he is himself a frustrated collector. The idea is simplicity itself. People with something to sell can post pictures. People interested in buying something can post their wants. Everyone can view the site and contact each other via messaging. It's up to the buyer and seller to negotiate terms, navigate the legalities, and assume all risk. Unlike an auction site such as eBay, the Exchange plays no role in the transaction and, of course, receives no compensation.

"It's just a hobby," says Bull.

It's a Facebook Group page, so you have to join the group to participate. Bull says he's approving everyone. Since it's social media, the hope is that people will develop relationships and build up a network of fellow collectors whom they trust, and who share their interests.

The pitfalls of something like this are obvious. Let's see how it goes.

9 comments:

Kyle Henderson said...

Genius

John Scott said...

Thanks for the support Chuck!

Anonymous said...

Should be interesting - I like the idea but think they're going about it wrong. I'm no lawyer, but I think if you position it more vaguely ("If you have information as to where someone could obtain a bottle, post a pic of it. If you are interested in information as to where to buy a bottle, post what you're looking".) Posting the price asked, and the price paid makes it nearly impossible to argue that what is taking place is legal (unless those posting have the appropriate licenses, etc).

The first sale has garnered some skeptical comments (they have asked that only the buyer/seller comment on pricing to avoid negativity, but the first sale was $250 for a bottle that is sitting on the shelves here for $90 - even with some shipping seems like gouging). Granted - they just posted the bottle and price, they didn't hold a gun to someone's head to pay it.

Don't get me wrong - I WANT this to work, as I am a whiskey collector who misses the eBay days. But I'm afraid their approach is daring facebook to shut them down for breaking the law, where if they thought about it more - they could create a setup that might have longer legs (although I admit - to be ambiguous enough to avoid the ire of authorities, it might be above the heads of some of the would-be participants; only because they aren't as familiar with the laws).

John Scott said...

I've received some legal advice and definitely agree with you. We are changing some things later today that will make it more vague and help it survive. Important to note is that we have the domain http://www.bourbonexchange.net. Right now it forwards straight to the Facebook group. In the future it may operate independent of Facebook.

Thanks for your support and comments.

Anonymous said...

There have been Jack Daniels collectors groups of this nature operating on Facebook since before the Ebay shutdown.

Dean E said...

It's fun (and sometimes startling) to see what people have in the bunker, but I would exercise extreme caution about trying to sidestep the law in such a public way. Even if the rules of the group evolve to a more coded approach, not all users will follow the rules to the same extent.

Anonymous said...

I'll start by uttering words of what some might consider Blasphemy and top it off with what might then be considered sacrilege.

To begin with, I don't like the taste of whiskey. yes I said it.
Add to that the fact that I have just sitting in a drawer someplace 2 bottles of AH Hirsch 16 year with gold wax and a bottle of Hirsch 12 year with black wax is something akin to an atheist having the shroud of Turin as a tablecloth.
The fact is, I can get no definitive price anywhere and I see stories pf things like $250/glass, $300+ per bottle, $600+ per bottle...
So quite frankly I don't know what to believe or what to do with the stuff.
If something like the Exchange exists away from Facebook I'd be interested in looking there.

BJ said...

What happened to the Bourbon Exchange on fb? I sent a request to join the closed group, got approved, and when I went to post some pics the group is gone? Any ideas on what happened?

BJ

Chuck Cowdery said...

Nothing happened. It's still there. I just checked. Try again.