Side-Hustling the Southern ‘60s

My Dad was side-hustling before side-hustling was a thing! I’m the baby.

Eric Branner

My dad is a serial entrepreneur. I grew up watching him start & operate many businesses. We had a swimming pool, so naturally, he started a pool business. He owned a software company when computers were bigger than my bedroom. He started a moving company. He always had at least two jobs and inspired me to work for myself.

One of his most memorable side gigs occurred in Madison, Alabama during the ’60s. Bill was working as an engineer on the first Apollo missions. He also owned a beer store in the local shopping center. He observed how the Baptist, conservative, church-going folks loved to drink, yet didn’t want to be seen buying booze. They preferred to drive to the next county so they wouldn’t be seen! He identified an opportunity and advertised a new service.

He would use a copy of your car key & deliver beer to your trunk while you shopped at the local grocery store. You’d unload your liquid treasure at night, away from the judging eyes of the local church congregation.

Nancy the church organist could go to the grocery store, park her car, and go shopping. While inside, Bill would deliver alcohol to her trunk. Nancy could finally drink like a fish without fear or social stigma.

Bill filled a need while quelling embarrassment & shame. This story always sticks with and inspires me. Know your environment & whom you’re serving. Watch, listen, & provide. Do what other people will not and charge a premium.

Eric Branner is CEO/Co-Founder of Fons. He's also a music teacher, father, guitarist, and mama's boy. He lives in Seattle with his wife Alyson, two awesome children Edie & Huck, & his dog Happy.

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