It brings a whole new meaning to “cup size.”
It’s called the Winerack, and it turns your average A-cup into a double-D full of whatever alcoholic beverage you care to sneak into your next sporting event, movie, or concert.
The Winerack is the sister product to the Beerbelly, a strap-on stomach that you can fill with whatever liquid you want to smuggle past security, happily immune to frisking. The Beerbelly was launched in 2005 by Brooks Lambert and Ted Colburn, two self-described “closet inventors.”
“We were joking about ways to sneak a drink in to a stadium,” Lambert says. “The next thing you know we cut up my $300 wetsuit, stuffed a CamelBak bladder in front and called it the Beerbelly.”
They put up a Web site to gauge demand and, after a mention at gadget site Gizmodo.com, had 2 million hits in three days.
Still, Lambert says, there has been a “huge learning curve” in developing a direct-to-consumer business model via the Internet. “It’s not as easy as we thought it would be.”
For one thing, marketing has been difficult. But the media have helped out with a shower of attention. The Beerbelly has been featured on CNN, among other places. The Winerack is in the November issue of Playboy.
One secret of the company’s success is its infallible answer to an urgent market need: free-flowing booze in venues where it’s either not available or prohibitively expensive. There are competing products but they fall far short in the volume department. The Sippin’ Seat Cushion holds the equivalent of three 12-ounce cans, Barnoculars a mere pint. The Beerbelly holds 80 ounces, the Winerack 25 ounces.
Lambert won’t reveal revenues. He will say that his company is profitable. He and Colburn are now finding new markets among outdoorspeople like kayakers, canoers and hikers. “Members of the Vail Ski Patrol use the Beerbelly as their hydration system on the mountain,” he says, “and I’m guessing they use it afterhours as well.”
The Winerack is selling primarily to single women between 18 and 34, although a lot of men are buying Wineracks too, Lambert says. “I’m hoping they’re gifts for wives or girlfriends. But I did get an e-mail from a gentleman who told me he’s planning on wearing a Beerbelly and a Winerack for maximum holding capacity.”
He’s quick to point out, though, that sneaking beverages is a coed sport. “We get e-mail on a regular basis from women telling us how grateful they are they can stop using Ziploc baggies in their bras or taped to their legs.”