new owners, new look, new selections
BUSINESSES IN THE NEWS
by Patriot Staff
Gordon and Lori Curtis bought Webster Wine & Liquors in August and in the months since then, they’ve been very busy learning everything there is to know about managing the store and selecting wines, beers, and liquors. “I now know the difference between whiskey and bourbon,” quips Lori.
The Curtises took over the business when the previous owners, George and Helen Baldowski, retired after running the store for 23 years.
Neither Gordon nor Lori had any retail experience. Gordon’s expertise is in operations management in manufacturing companies. Lori is a surgical technologist, the person who prepares the operating room and passes instruments to the surgeon. That’s been her career for 26 years, the last ten at UMass Memorial Hospital. “That’s my true passion,” she said, “and I won’t give it up.” She works in the store in the mornings, and then goes to work at the hospital.
Gordon still works his manufacturing job as well, and takes over in the store after work. It’s a family affair: son Gordon Jr. comes in evenings to stock and daughter Stephanie, a student at Nichols College, helps on weekends.
“Gordon had always dreamed of owning his own business,” said Lori, “particularly a liquor store. He has a relative who has one and that interested him. We had been looking at different stores and different towns, and when this one became available, we went for it.”
Gordon and Lori have made some major changes in the layout of the 2500 sq. ft. store, installing more, larger coolers and opening up the wine display section to make it easier to peruse the many new wine collections they’ve brought in.
Lori is very enthusiastic about the wines. She’ll try something new, see if the customers like it, and then go from there. One of their vendors suggested a new Italian moscato called Tutidi; people loved it, Lori said, and it was sold out in no time.
Among the benefits of owning your own wine and liquor store is that you get to choose the wine for a wine tasting. They had an impromptu wine tasting last week, and plan others.
“Smoking Loon Pinot Grigio is my absolute favorite wine,” Lori told us, and noted that, “we’ll have a Smoking Loon tasting on December 21, from 4 -7 p.m. It will be put on by The Tasting Company, which sponsors tastings for the distributor M.S. Walker.
The vendors have been super supportive and helpful, said Lori. Atlas Distributing, for example, measured the back wall of the store and repainted it with new signage.
Besides bringing in new wines, the Curtises are also trying new beers. The store always carried a good selection of Polish beer, and they’ve added to that. They plan to bring in a new beer to try every week or so. This week it’s Moosehead Lager, and they’ll see how it sells.
Lori said that if a customer has a preference for a specific wine or liquor, they’ll be happy to do a special order. If it’s a particularly pricey product they may ask for a deposit.
Another service they’ll provide is custom gift baskets for charity or general gift-giving. Baskets can include wine, hot cocoa, cookies, mugs, for instance, and can be geared to any budget. Lori suggested, with a smile, that candy cane vodka and whipped cream-flavor liquors make good holiday baskets.
Gordon and Lori are totally committed to their new venture. The most fun, Lori said, is meeting and talking with the customers. “We get to know the names of the regulars, and they know us. We’ve seen a lot of new people come in too.”
They also appreciate their staff: Paul Richard, Gordon’s “right hand” man, has been with the store for ten years, and Donna Gaulin, who joined the staff about six weeks ago. “Donna really likes the customers.”
It goes both ways. One of the regular customers making a purchase heard us talking and added, “We like them too.”
The store is at 57 Main Street, Webster. Phone 508-943-4088.
- Thursday, 06 December 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Businesses in the News