SANTA CRUZ — Santa Cruz entrepreneur Scott Gold, who has made a living selling products celebrating the rough-edged lifestyle of the working class, has managed to do what no U.S. alcohol company has: package beer and spirits in the same box and sell it to a community he affectionately refers to as “White Trash.”
Launched in mid-September, the $10 Blanco Basura 5-Pack, which includes five 12-ounce cans of beer, a bottle of tequila or bourbon and a shot glass, has rung up about $400,000 in sales, primarily in Northern California, in the first month alone. Gold expects sales to double in the second month once distribution includes Arizona, and to multiply exponentially once distribution spreads to 12 western states in January and eventually nationally later next year.
“I took a chance and just filled the pipeline,” said Gold, 43. “This is how I drink.”
Gold is referring to a shot glass of what he calls “smooth, premium” spirits and a can of Mexicali-brewed Blanco Basura beer to chase it. His main conference room revolves around a poker table covered in corporate papers outside his second floor back office. The walls are banked with T-shirt boxes and a podium sports a recruitment poster for the “BB Army,” an online marketing initiative that promises paying members company swag including personal dog tags, a cap, T-shirt, and the opportunity drawing to win a ’69 Impala and custom choppers.
“It’s a way to give back,” Gold says.
office doorway a custom street sign reads: “White Trash.”
Blanco Basura, which loosely and incorrectly translates to “white trash” in Spanish, is an 11-year-old company founded originally as a branded clothing company that specializes in original and, some might say, off-the-wall slogans such as “I never want to see my parents naked again” on T-shirts, hats and stickers. The primary market has been competitive racing communities. It is a company that favors military camouflage over Dockers and venerates the go-cart, the customized chopper and the bar brawl. A quasi-heroic bandit cartoon figure, a caricature of Gold himself in shorts, is known as “El Guero Culero,” a key character in the company’s graphic cartoon marketing campaign.
“It’s a lifestyle,” says Gold. “I’m the end user.”
Gold, who worked as a Capitola police officer for 10 years and a licensed contractor for twice that long, also runs several other companies including The Tiffin Company, Arnold Publishing, ShirtCrafter and DivotMat.
“I don’t want to do what everybody else does. I always thought that once you can go into Costco and see your own clothes, that’ll be the day you can’t wear your clothes,” he said. “I’ve been very protective of my own brand.”
Over the years, companies have approached Gold with ideas for new products such as energy drinks, but he says he never wants to be part of the crowd.
“There’s so many of them. I don’t want to be a follower. It’ll ruin the brand. I kind of came up with my own energy drink,” he says with a laugh, “alcohol. It’s an anti-energy drink.”
It’s been one long road for Gold, however, who says it took him six years to navigate the regulatory and legal maze of co-packaging beer and spirits. He has received help from family and friend investors and postponed the dream of a new family home.
“It’s certainly absolutely revolutionary,” said George Couch III, president of the Watsonville-based beverage distributor that put the product on local shelves first. “I’ve never seen anyone do this. He’s really broken new territory. What I think he’s managed to do is come across with some very good quality products. Mexicali is recognized for having very fine products and we have two to three tequila aficionados here and they assure me it’s very high quality tequila. Scott’s found a way to package this whole thing and have it priced very, very competitively.”
Gold expects to release a series of new products next year, including ale with Irish whiskey, keg products and separate bottles of Kentucky whiskey and Mexican tequila.
“He’s gotten the attention of the beer and liquor industry to a very high degree,” said Jesshill E. Love III, the company’s outside counsel.
Hill helped Gold secure intellectual property and trademark protections, including the use of the poorly translated company name and patent applications for the packaging of the product itself. The law firm had to hire a national authority in translations to prevail as part of the trademark process.
“The company’s concern was that without sufficient intellectual property protections the product could be hijacked by competitors, so we spent an extensive amount of time, energy and effort on putting the proper protections in place in connection with the launch of the product,” Hill said.
A legal dispute with a competitive liquor company over Blanco Basura’s claim to a five-pack trademark “was amicably resolved this year.”
“My name for him is The Fad King,” says Hill, who admits he is aiming for “full bird colonel” in the BB Army. “Scott has an absolute uncanny ability to look into society and design and bring to market novel concepts that get society’s attention.”
Bill Grandy, manager at Verutti Liquors in Capitola, said the product has generated an initial excitement in the store and he’s seen the five-pack in local bars as well.
“I was at 007 One Double Oh Seven in Santa Cruz talking to guys who had already drank quite a few. They bought it for $18 at the bar and they were loving it. Booze with beer — that’s an excellent idea. People of my generation and the ones coming after me — it’s our thing. It’s what we do. We drink a shot with a beer back. We’re just everyday working people and that’s what this is catering to. That’s definitely helped its appeal.”
Gold, who says he never graduated high school, is married to Erin Gold, who runs ShirtCrafters, and has two teenage children.
“It’s been a gamble but it’s paid off somewhat,” Gold says.
To celebrate sales goals, Gold hopes to take the company to Las Vegas one day soon to celebrate by racing trucks off road, firing off machine guns or doing a little “safe” grenade throwing.
“I’d love to throw a grenade to celebrate sales goals,” he says. “That’s fun stuff.”
WHAT: Blanco Basura is a privately owned company manufacturing clothes, stickers and alcohol.
HEADQUARTERS: 111 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz
INFORMATION: 423-0537; www.blancobasura.com
HISTORY: Founded in 1999 as a branded lifestyle clothing and promotions company. The company launched its first alcohol products in mid-September: the five-pack of beer and bottle of spirits in a box with a shot glass, as well as a six pack of beer under the same label.
LEADERSHIP: Scott Gold, president and founder
EMPLOYEES: The company employs 21 people and is hiring.
FINANCIALS: The company reports $400,000 in sales for the first month. Forecasts include $800,000 for the second month in operation and $17 million for 2011.
This article first appeared here.