Establishing a Bottling Business

In addition to detailed information about the many technical aspects of bottling soft drinks, James W. Tufts’ 1888 volume, The Manufacture and Bottling of Carbonated Beverages, provided guidance specifically written for bottlers who could benefit from general advice from an experienced businessman.  Here’s a portion of Tufts’ sage words of wisdom:

The Manufacture of Goods.

The difference in cost between fine and inferior goods is too small to be figured.  Therefore use the best of materials, and take pains to have your goods as nice as you can make them.

It only requires patience and perseverance to enable the beginner to compete with the world.

Beware of the man who will teach you your business for fifty dollars.  He is usually a fraud, whose stock in trade is copied from the publications of manufacturers of apparatus.

Reputable houses employ reputable men…

The bottler should constantly study his business.

There is such a thing as scientific bottling, and the highest ideal will never be attained.  The bottler of four or five months’ experience generally knows it all, while those of fifteen or twenty years’ experience will always admit that they have much to learn.


In starting in the business, it is never good policy to try to undersell the old established concerns.  A beginner will find it far more profitable to make specialties, and to endeavor, in the staple goods, to offer a better quality than ordinary…ORIGINALITY PAYS…

Do not even imitate imported ginger-ale.  American made ginger is superior to the imported…

Use original style labels and American made bottles.


Bottlers rarely pay sufficient attention to the appearance of their salesroom; and a display in a show window is almost unheard of in the business.  This should not be so.  The bottler needs an attractive salesroom and a handsomely arranged show-window fully as much as a merchant in any other line of business.  A very attractive display can be made with bottled goods, as anyone who has attended the exhibitions at the bottlers’ convention knows.

The bottling apparatus should be placed in the front of the shop, and as near as practicable to a door or window, so that it may be readily seen from the street, and thus attract attention and act as an advertisement.

The operation of machinery is always interesting to the public, and it is a well-known fact that motion is the best possible advertisement.

Too much attention cannot be paid to cleanliness and neatness.  The purity and wholesomeness of your beverages will be estimated by the appearance of your shop.

Nothing advertises a bottling business more than neat wagons, horses, and men; the public largely judge the goods by the appearance of these…

Do not spend money at bars to advertise your business.  This is the greatest mistake a bottler can make; it is very expensive advertising, and besides is unprofitable.  There is no reason why bottled beverages should not be sold on their merits, as other merchandise is sold, and treating should be left to the brewers and distillers who originated the practice, and whose margin of profit is large enough to stand the outlay.  A good team or an attractive shop will do more effective advertising than twice the money spent at bars, and, it being evidence of prosperity, will greatly improve the bottler’s credit.

Put your name prominently and permanently on every article used in your business.

Advice in regard to Help.

The business will be either advanced or set back by the help, and…too much care cannot be exercised in procuring the right kind.

A man who abuses liquor, not regarding his own interests, will neglect those of his employer and of his employers’ customers.  Such men over-drive and neglect horses, and wear out harnesses and wagons.

The assistance of a practical bottler is not to be despised, and every beginner, whose business will warrant it, is advises to secure the services of one, as his skill and experience will save time, and be of advantage in many other ways.

If you employ a bottler, give him full charge of his work and hold him responsible for its proper performance.  Hire a good man, and having obtained one do not be afraid to trust him.  It is a mistake to try and keep the bottler in ignorance of your method of mixing and preparing syrups, etc…He will experiment at your expense when your back is turned, and will eventually learn that in regard to which you wish to keep him in ignorance, and it is a great cost to you.

Do not allow loafers and hangers-on to manage your business.  Keep your shop cleared of them.

Leaks in the Business.

The bottling apparatus, when received from the manufacturer, is a handsome piece of machinery.  It represents the investment of a large sum of money, and should therefore receive the greatest possible amount of care and attention.  With good care it should last ten years or more, but if neglected and abused it can be destroyed in six months.

The teamster will sometimes accidentally drop a case and break a piece out of it.  If repaired at once it is as good as ever, but if neglected it is so much capital gone.

Many bottlers accumulate dirty bottles containing flies, grease and other dirt.  Such an accumulation is a filthy sight, and always impresses visitors unfavorably.  These bottles should never be broken up, but should be cleaned by the boy in leisure moments.  A half barrel containing a solution of caustic potash in water should be provided in which dirty bottles can be soaked.

Neck wires on broken bottles should be removed, as they are worth saving.  Four or five barrels of broken glass often contain four or five dollars worth of neck wires.