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Through the Grapevine

E-mail newsletter has owners tasting profits.

Communication is key in maintaining customer relations, and technology can only help, as Tom Natoci of CloverLeaf Fine Wine & Spirits in Southfield, Michigan, learned. When manager Putnam Weekley approached Natoci, one of the store's five owners, with the idea of sending out weekly e-mail newsletters, his response was enthusiastic.

A customer who worked in Web design helped create a format for the company to send out e-newsletters. Placing sign-up forms by the store register for interested customers, Weekley began with 30 addresses; a year and a half later, that figure has hit 900. Initially featuring only wines that had received press, were discounted or were well-known brands, the newsletters have since branched out to cover a wider range of wine topics.

Launched in 2002, the newsletter has increased sales 12 percent, pushing 2003 projected sales above the $1 million mark. Natoci, 33, is thrilled: "It's far surpassed what [we initially anticipated]."

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This article was originally published in the June 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Through the Grapevine.

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