Are you motivated by money or passion, or in other words, are you a mercenary or a troubador?
At a new wine store, I was recently told that they would only carry certain niche wines if their customers requested them. This is a very reactionary, rather than a proactive, attitude, and seems motivated more by financial considerations than passion. You are selling only what is popular, what sells the easiest. It can also be a lazier, and less challenging, form of retail.
Contrast that type of merchant with a more passionate one, an advocate for wine who is more proactive in their efforts. A Troubador. They carry plenty of niche wines, even if none of their customers requested them. Rather, they try to expose their customers to these wines, to broaden their palates. They hold tastings which showcase the more unique wines, letting consumers learn and love them. This takes more effort, and can be very challenging, but it can also be more satisfying. And if you possess a true passion for wine, the effort is worthwhile.
Consumers don't always know which wines they will enjoy. Sometimes they possess mistaken preconceptions about certain wine types, thinking that they won't like those wines. For example, many people think all sherry is sweet, not realizing the myriad joys and diversity of dry sherry. Other people think all sake is served hot, not understanding the deliciousness of chilled sake. So, those people won't ever ask a wine store to carry those items. Yet if those same people were exposed to the truth, if they tasted dry sherry or chilled sake, then they might find they actually enjoy them.
Thus, by relying only on what your customers request, you do a disservice to them. You cater to their misconceptions, preventing them from encountering other wines they would savor. Troubadors though share their passion and knowlege with their customers, exposing them to new wines, to new tastes. And customers become very grateful for that, pleasantly surprised when they find something new to treasure. They are also more likely to return, to see what new treasures you have to offer.
Even when a Mercenary carries some niche wines, how they handle them reveals their true nature. Such a wine store owner will simply place the niche wines on a shelf, often without even a shelf talker, and hope they sell themselves. They exert little, if any, effort to promote those wines, just expecting customers to buy them. Plus, the niche wines these owners stock are usually not the best examples of such wines. They are often the cheapest examples, and the quality is consequently low. Certainly not the type of wine that would appeal to someone new to such wines.
These niche wines require more hand selling, more promotion, more tastings. Consumers must be educated about those wines, shown the errors of their preconceptions. Plus, it is much more persuasive to consumers if the wines they taste are actually quality wines, and not just some average, at best, sample. Give them a niche wine which will impress, not one that is instantly forgettable.
One of the problems may be that the Mercenary owners are not educated about niche wines and they don't have sufficient motivation to learn about them. So, there is less incentive for them to carry such wines, and there would be difficulty anyways promoting the wines because of their ignorance. The Troubadors take the time to learn about new wines, to expand their own knowledge base. They themselves enjoy the thrill of discovering new and compelling wines.
I praise the Troubadors out there, those who spread a passion for wine. They are the ones who receive most of my praise and support.