How ‘Shark Tank’ Helped McClary Bros. Drinking Vinegars Increase Sales

'Shark Tank' pitchers McClary Bros

Entrepreneurs who pitch on Shark Tank often experience a surge in sales after their episode airs, regardless of whether or not they get a deal. Such was the case for McClary Bros. drinking vinegars. The Detroit-based company appeared on the season 7 premiere of Shark Tank, and although they left without an investment, they made more in sales in the days that followed than the amount of funding they sought.

As Entrepreneur magazine recalled, Jess Sanchez-McClary appeared before regular sharks and actor Ashton Kutcher, a guest panelist for the episode. He caused a stir by admonishing panelist Kevin O’Leary who was harsh in his assessment of McClary’s business, which O’Leary implied was not viable. Kutcher said to O’Leary, “you don’t have to belittle people.”

Despite his advocacy, Kutcher did not invest and Sanchez-McClary left the program without the $100,000 for the 15 percent she’d requested. But the day after the show aired, McClary Bros. had taken 1,000 new orders. By the end of the weekend, their website sales equaled what they had brought in online the entirety of the previous year.

“Before the holidays started, we had already done more than twice in revenue than the amount we had requested from the sharks.”

A Detroit News report in September revealed that the company had to hunker down and organize in order to properly fulfill the influx of orders after the show. The success wasn’t limited to people buying the product; there were multiple opportunities to get McClary Bros. distributed outside the Detroit area.

“We’ve had a lot of stores all over the country that want to carry it, and probably another half-a-dozen or so distributors have also reached out to us.”

Sanchez-McClary conceived of the business while a culinary student. She learned about old-time preservation techniques and created drinking vinegars, good as a soda alternative or mixer for craft cocktails. People in the Detroit area can try it out for themselves, as McClary Bros. opened up a tasting room in the suburb of Farmington at the beginning of December. Sanchez-McClary told Metro Times it’s designed to take advantage of the craft cocktail trend and change people’s minds about what vinegar can be.

“I’m trying to make vinegar approachable. This isn’t something you use to dye easter eggs, this isn’t something your grandma uses to cleaned the floors. There’s something in it for everybody.”

Certainly the drinks’ flavors make it clear this isn’t everyday vinegar: customers can try Michigan Apple Pie, Cranberry, Beet and Carrot among others. The tasting room also has a gift shop to purchase cocktail glasses, bar accessories, and t-shirts — all perfect gifts for the vinegar or cocktail lover.

But those who can’t make it to the Detroit tasting room can still order the product online or purchase it in about 120 Meijer stores in the region, according to an MLive report. MLive describes the room as “colonial-themed,” consistent with the traditional nature of drinking vinegars, also known as “shrubs.”

The vinegars seemed to be a hit with the sharks, even if they didn’t lay money down on the enterprise. Shark Lori Greiner mentioned that she drinks vinegar for its health benefits. Sanchez-McClary told Entrepreneur that the panelists’ positive response to the samples she handed out on the show gave her brand a boost, even if sharks like O’Leary questioned its investment potential.

“A lot of people took the sharks’ word for it that this is good. It made every sales from that point forward easier.”

Kutcher was only one of several guest sharks on the program this season. Chris Sacca and Troy Carter were two others. Shark Tank airs Friday nights on ABC.

[Feature image courtesy of ABC]