Being unable to get your bottled drinks onto supermarket shelves may point you to more original outlets. Urban Juice & Soda, in Vancouver, B.C., can't afford to stock its brands in supermarkets because of prohibitive slotting fees. "I can't play that game right now," says founder and CEO Peter van Stolk. "Even if I could pay for the space, I'd have to create the pull, and that takes marketing dollars." So, until he can afford to sell Jones Soda and Wazu bottled water in supermarkets, van Stolk targets nontraditional venues: tattoo parlors, snowboard shops, and navel-piercing establishments, as well as bagel shops, cappuccino bars, and Chinese restaurants -- "anywhere Coke and Pepsi won't go or can't go."
Without competing in big, traditional markets, van Stolk has managed to grow his company from $3 million in 1995 sales to a projected $21 million in 1998. And he has established his product on the hip, Gen-X circuit -- a very thirsty crowd with a future.