We all have a special place that’s been hit hard by COVID-19. Maybe it’s your family’s favorite restaurant or that dive bar with the killer happy hour. Read on to discover a hopeful story of how one bar is making it work.
Wohnzimmer Bar or WZB for short, is a bar located in a German town in Bavaria. Their clever name, Living Room Bar, reminds us of what every great bar should be: approachable, cool and casual. To cope with the tough times of covid, they’ve created their own clothing brand, WZB—Fashionable Drinks.
Hi there! It’s nice in your *virtual* living room – at least we think so. It’s a bummer we haven’t visited your bar before. How do you get that living room feeling and nightlife to coexist in one place?
Thank you! And yes, it’s nice, cozy and elevated at our place. Here’s the recipe: Take old, comfortable couches, tables and chairs from your grandparents and place them stylishly in the bar. In the middle of all this furniture you build another bar and arrange everything interestingly. Ta da, living room ready!
The Living Room Bar is known for it’s 70s furniture and the comfortable couches you can sink into while enjoying cozy drinks. Around 11’o’clock the atmosphere changes- the bar fills up, there are shots and good tunes.
Sounds like fun! How did the place actually come to be and what makes it so special?
Who hasn’t dreamed of owning their own bar? That was our goal, and four years ago it actually came true. We were lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
The place has a lot of history. It was once a Chinese restaurant; the location has had many personalities. Our ceiling tiles, for example, are still decorated with golden Chinese dragons. This charm combined with retro furniture, creates a unique style –that’s what makes it so special.
You had to close your doors because of Covid-19, what’s happened since then?
Like so many other pubs and bars, we had to close on March 11th due to Covid-19.
Immediately after closing, we were able to take care of tasks that we had wanted to do for a while, such as selling coupons or Crew T-Shirts. After the first drafts for our Crew Shirts, we had the idea to illustrate and print our drinks from the living room bar on them.
That was almost 6 months ago now. Today, it’s the middle of August and our plan is to reopen the bar on September 3rd. Of course, we’ll follow strict health and safety regulations, have limited seating, etc… But anything is better than being closed.
And you’ll have your own Spreadshop! How did you get the idea and what attracted you to Spreadshop?
After the idea and the first drink designs were implemented, we looked for a partner who could produce the shirts and quickly came across Spreadshop. We ordered a few test products, also from other manufacturers, and found yours the best. A really outstanding bonus is the delivery time. You’re on your toes!
In the beginning, we wanted to sell our T-shirts to our guests and distribute them under the hashtag #supportyourlocalbar. But we soon realized that with Spreadshop we have more possibilities to address more customers. This led to our new label WZB – Fashion Drinks, the same name as our Spreadshop.
And you’re loving the result?
The set up, the service, the customer support – we’re currently super satisfied and were able to discover a new sales channel for us quickly after being closed. Of course, there are still points where we wish we could make changes, but we enjoy working with Spreadshop every day. The quality of the products is also very good and they are still produced sustainably and fairly. Two thumbs up!
Have you already found many supporters? Are your customers for your Spreadshop the same people who hang out in your bar or play beerpong?
Sure, in the beginning we sold our shirts to our customers in the bar and we are also very grateful that our guests supported us here. They have laid the foundation for more designs and expansion into new business areas, as we did not expect this number of sales. Once again, a big thank you to our best guests!
After the first month we started to sell our products also to all other states, as well as to Austria and Switzerland. In the beginning we had to learn which regions buy which designs, but in the meantime we’ve found a niche. Now we also sell in the DACH region also in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Luxembourg. Here you can rely on fast deliveries from Spreadshop throughout Europe. The service is just right!
Thanks for the compliment! We also have one for you: Your designs are genius! Who came up with this idea?
Thank you! We are also proud of our designs, because we haven’t found any like ours online yet. As we said before, we wanted to design unique T-shirts for the best crew, because they definitely deserve cool and stylish shirts. After the first feedback from friends and guests about our designs, we realized that these designs and “fashion drinks” excites more people than we first thought. We quickly started to expand the designs and currently we try to create two to three designs per week. Of course, all under the motto “Designed by real Bar keepers: No drinks at the bar – drinks on shirts & hoodies instead!”
Which design is the most popular and why?
In the beginning, Vodka Wellness and Knuckle Spreaders were the most popular. In the meantime, other designs, such as Spritz, Air and Gin & Tonic have been added, which also work very well, and it’s a neck-and-neck race between five designs, depending on the region. Our favorite design is still the Vodka Wellness, as this was our first design and that’s how the idea was born. The fact that this is now one of the bestsellers makes us very happy!
What’s your future looking like? Have you already made plans?
First of all, we hope that our planned reopening on September 3rd works out and that we can finally serve “real drinks” to our guests again. To make sure that nothing stands in the way of our reopening, we’ll also offer food at our place.
But we will not neglect the T-shirt business in the future, because it is really important to be creative and get good feedback from our customers. We are currently making plans to sell to the USA, Canada and Australia and are in the process of opening a Shop. That would be a great business area, where we will surely realize ideas for new drinks.
Do you use social media to promote your clothes? What is your approach?
We’ve been using social media to promote our articles from the very beginning. Initially, we did it organically with our bar accounts. After a short time, we opened WZB – Fashion Drinks (Facebook) and @wzbshop (Instagram) to distribute our shirts through these channels with paid advertising. Due to our marketing background, we were able to achieve quick success in nationwide sales and are happy that we reach our target group well with Facebook and Instagram.
One last question: What advice do you have for other bar owners who are dealing with the crisis?
First of all. We think it’s amazing how much creativity has come from the gastronomy scene because of the crisis. Many new projects that were unthinkable at the beginning have been implemented within a few weeks. We would like to express our respect to the entire industry, which was one of the hardest hit by the crisis. We quickly realized that we couldn’t get anywhere with complaining, so we concentrated on what could generate potential sales. In this way, we found means to get ourselves through it all. Of course, the months-long closures were a hard blow for the industry at first. But many have shown that the crisis is also an opportunity and have broadened their horizons so that things like this won’t hit them so hard in the future.
Look for a second or third hobby, but never lose the passion for everything you do!
We’ve also learned from the crisis: Show courage and see the crisis as an opportunity!
Thank you for the interview. We are looking forward to the next Fashion Drink and wish you good luck with your reopening!