Kevin Zelko likes to think of himself as a smarter beer vendor. On Friday, at the Seattle Mariners season opener, he’s going to try to prove it.
The 36-year-old teacher who, for the past five seasons has served beer at Safeco Field, is ready to take orders from fans in the stands. Send a message to his Twitter address, @Msbeervendor, your seat and your order and he’ll be there as soon as he can.
“Since the beginning of beer vendors, we’ve been walking up and down the aisles seeing who wants a beer, I’m going to try to change that,” Zelko said.
Zelko says he normally sells about 80 beers during an average home game from the beginning of the game until the first pitch of 8th inning, when he has to stop. On those days he pulls in about $125. On weekends, he can sell more than 100 beers and pull in closer to $200 — even more if the Yankees are in town.
Zelko says he hopes taking his vending to Twitter will take some of the guesswork out of his game by making his routes more direct. Not only will an ordered beer likely mean a better tip, but he also says that fans with smartphones, who are on Twitter during the game, are more likely to have more wealth and therefore have more money to spend.
One fan, @justin_925, said this to Zelko on Twitter: “Cannot wait to tweet my beer order to you on Friday. It will be my birthday, so get excited for tips.”
Throughout the season, Zelko — who currently has 224 followers — hopes to do something that no other beer vendor has done before: Grow a following, let fans into his life as a beer vendor and communicate with fans even when he isn’t selling beer to them.
There's something to be said for getting to know your beer vendor. Zelko says it's not just the beer that you are selling, it's how you sell it. Last year, his favorite call was "Cold beer, cold beer, Stephen Colbert!" This year, he'll try some new lines. He admittedly has at least one beer vendor competitor who he can't top.
"One guy can tell you everything about your birthday if you give him the date," Zelko said. "He can give you the day of the week, the weather in Seattle that day, if anything happened in the news and who was the president."
People might think they know what it’s like to sell beer, but Zelko says fans have no idea of the challenges. No one buys beer when Ichiro gets to the plate and the steps in the outfield stands are usually filled with Japanese girls crowding the aisles.
Zelko says in order to be prompt, he’ll probably check his phone every three aisles to see if if an order has come in.
“I come from a family of stockbrokers,” said Zelko, who teaches special needs children during the day. “Selling things is easy for us.”
And, thanks to Twitter, Zelko hopes to make his job even easier.
I did ask Zelko if he was concerned about people sitting at home pranking him, telling him they are somewhere in the stadium, when they are nowhere near the ballpark. Zelko says he isn't concerned and that he doesn't anticipate he'll take too much abuse.
Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com