To say that John Nese is passionate about his job is an understatement. When Nese, the proprietor of Galco’s Soda Pop Stop in Los Angeles, was asked to describe his product in one word, he simply replied: “Happy.” How about two words? His second answer was “Smile.” So who is this wacky soda man who speaks like Frankenstein? Turns out he’s a brilliant storyteller. And he had the cajones to stand up to Pepsi.
In a world of massive discount retailers and monopolies over most food and beverage brands (think Pepsi, Coke), John bucks the trend. He staked the claim on his own shelves by saying “thanks but no thanks” to Pepsi. That’s right, Pepsi. That’s because his story isn’t about carrying the brands that customers “think” they want and salespeople insist he sell.
“The important thing is to set yourself apart and provide your customers with something that nobody else has,” says John.
While the video below is over 12 minutes – far longer than the average YouTube viewer’s attention span – it is well worth it.
From a content marketing perspective, the Soda Pop Stop is unrivaled. Nobody carries as many bottled soda brands (around 500), and many of them can only be found in his store. In addition to the selection, the experience that John provides his customers can’t be duplicated, because John is one-of-a-kind. As you walk the aisles with him you realize that John has a story for every soda. After hearing all his stories, how can you not buy an assorted 12-pack? How can you not yearn to taste the Sweet Blossom floral sodas bottled in Romania and pressed from real crushed rose petals (not available anywhere else in the United States)? Or how about the Red Ribbon root beer made from the bark of sassafras?
The fact that John refuses to follow the industry norm of disgruntled employees selling the standard soda lineup in plastic bottles and aluminum cans at a minuscule profit (if any) is exactly why the Soda Pop Stop is considered the ultimate soda lover’s destination and gets the Post-Advertising stamp of approval. He offers choice, quality, engagement, and an experience that can’t be duplicated.
It’s in this experience and the engaging stories that customers find value. It’s why this small grocer has been featured on the Food Channel, CBS, and the Tokyo Times. It’s the simple formula of great content and authentic storytelling driving deep consumer engagement, without the need for traditional marketing. Just don’t ask him about high-fructose corn syrup…or diet sodas.