At one of the Mariners’ first home games of the season, during our glorious weather streak, beer vendor Kevin Zelko was making the rounds in his section, and quickly sold most of his supply of oversized Coronas. A customer, spying the last Corona in his bin, tried to buy it, but Zelko told him the can had already been ordered by a Twitter follower three rows away.
There was a flash of recognition. “You’re @msbeerbendor?”
Zelko answered in the affirmative, then headed off to deliver the last cold Corona in his bin to the man who had requested it via tweet.
Last year Zelko enjoyed 15 minutes, er, 140 characters of fame when he started taking ballpark beer orders via Twitter. His @msbeervendor service is back for a new season, though a new seniority system has relocated him to the bleachers, sections 180 to 194, to be exact.
This year Zelko, a special education teacher by day, is selling McTarnahan’s, Elysian’s Men’s Room Red, Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Corona, and Pacifico; he plan to start toting a bit of lime juice to augment those last two. His website helps potential customers track his whereabouts, since tickets sales dictate which games he works.
Right now about 10 percent of his orders come from Twitter, though selling in the bleachers presents a special challenge because many people buy a relatively cheap bleacher ticket, then spend most of the game hanging out at The ‘Pen, with its Ethan Stowellified menu and considerable microbrew selection. But Zelko says he likes the fun, younger crowed, and some groups specifically request to be in his section for beer-tweeting purposes.
A few customers he interacted with last season have turned into friends, says Zelko, and he enjoys interacting with his newfound Twitter fan base throughout the year, talking baseball and telling jokes. A half-dozen startups have approached him with business propositions connected to Twitter-based sales, he says, but “nothing has panned out on turning @msbeervendor into a Fortune 500 yet.”