Tri-City Beverage Corp. employee John Villanveva packs a case of Cherry Herbal Dr. Enuf for shipping Friday afternoon. (Nathan Baker / Johnson City Press)
Dr. Enuf has long been a soft drink that capitalizes on fierce brand loyalty and nostalgia for bygone years to boost sales.
The simple glass bottle it’s sold in and the scrawling cursive script on the label harken back to a time when sodas were sold in corner stores for scarcely more than a couple of coins and the milkman made his rounds every morning, leaving fresh milk on the doorsteps of houses all over town.
But what all but only a few of the most rabid fans of “the original energy booster” don’t know is that the Dr. makes house calls.
Patrick Sturgill, vice president of local sales for Tri-City Beverage Corp., the Johnson City company that has produced Dr. Enuf since 1949, said loyal customers anywhere in the continental United States can make online purchases and have cases of the stuff delivered right to their front doors.
“We get calls all the time from people outside our distribution area asking where they can buy it,” Sturgill said Friday from his office overlooking the bottling facility’s assembly line. “We tell them that they can go right on our website and have it shipped right to them.”
About 50 cases of Dr. Enuf, including diet and cherry flavors, are shipped for Internet orders each month, but online business seems to pick up around the Christmas holiday, Sturgill said.
“A lot of parents send it to their children who have moved away, for a gift,” he said. “It makes them feel like they’re closer to home sometimes when they can’t travel back here.”
One especially addicted Dr. Enuf drinker regularly has a case or two shipped her way, and even called to make sure the company had her new address when she moved halfway across the country.
“I think they miss the taste and the pick-me-up that goes along with Dr. Enuf,” he said. “They grow accustomed to it when they live here, and then they can’t get it when they move off.”
Through a distribution deal with Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores — another business that relies heavily on nostalgia — Dr. Enuf can also be purchased at hundreds of restaurants across the country.
But the FedEx delivery just seems so much more personable.
One major problem that first had to be overcome to get pristine beverages on doorsteps was eliminating breakage.
John Villanveva, who packs most of the online orders before they’re sent out, said it took a bit of trial and error to design a proper package to keep the bottles unbroken.
“We go as far as California, so we needed a packing method that would stand up to the shipping,” he said.
The company eventually landed on sandwiching the precious cargo between two sections of plastic packing foam.
Sturgill said now less than a handful of bottles are broken per year.
Some may balk at the $40 per case price in the online store, but Sturgill said most of those costs are associated with shipping.
Still others order a case for delivery here in Johnson City just for the convenience, he said.
“It’s not a very big part of our business, but we do have regular people buying it online,” Sturgill said. “It’s all about us getting the drink to where it needs to be.”