Question 1. What inspired you to open a wine shop?
Actually it is more of "who" and "what". Two answers: My son and my neighborhood. In order to transition from restaurants (and nighttime employment) to a schedule which fits our family (as our son approaches kindergarten age) we needed a plan. I have been involved in wine for many years, and was sad to leave my knowledge and experience behind, but I wasn't sure there was a demand for that kind of expertise outside fine dining. So, for a long time now (the last 10 years) I've been filing ideas away about what to do next.
When we bought our home in the Roseway neighborhood of Portland, we could see our neighbors were hungry for new shopping choices. And after a few years as a stay-at home mom, I was eager to get out and meet my neighbors. We realized we could address both those issues AND contribute to the renaissance of Roseway by bringing the wine shop into fruition.
And one day, shopping at Safeway, we looked up and saw an empty storefront. It was like a hound dog catching a scent, the way we both looked across the parking lot to the space across the street. We loaded our groceries and ran over to check it out.
Question 2. What criteria did you have for a space? How many spaces did you see before you settled on this store front?
It was old, and in need of repair, but it fit our criteria: walking distance to our home, small, visible and easily accessible. This was the only space we looked at officially! There isn't much retail space in Roseway, so when we found this one, we jumped on it. Everything was quite informal--a friend volunteered to look it over for us. This was December 2015. So instead of shopping for Christmas, I was registering my first LLC. Instead of snow that year, it was an avalanche of paperwork!
Question 3. How did you find the program through Metro? Did you consider any other grant programs?
Our neighborhood is not part of any of the other BDS development districts' eligible grants. My landlady got a postcard about Portland Metro's Storefront Revitalization Program in the mail, (link here.) She told me about it and we decided to pursue it. It's going to enable us to restore our storefront--signage, lighting (from partner Wells Fargo) new paint and windows, including some transoms which were boarded up for years. I'm very proud to say that Mom & Pop Wine Shop is the first start-up business grantee in this new program.
Question 4. What has been most surprising about the permitting and construction process? What advice would you give someone who wants to go a similar route?
We are finalizing the paperwork for construction to commence, so we have not gotten into that phase except to do some early demolition work on the exterior. What everyone says though, is that the process will take waaaay longer than you anticipate. And that is true for us, too. Being patient and learning to focus on things which you can control is crucial. We did not have the budget to hire a general contractor to remodel the interior, so I assumed that role and have been coordinating subcontractors myself. It is possible, but frustrating. After years in a customer-service intensive industry like restaurants, dealing with contractors is a rude awakening. Many, many times, my calls or emails were ignored. People would forget appointments or show up late without notice. In fact, I've joked that contrary to conventional wisdom, the City of Portland has been very helpful and responsive to my questions and needs, whereas the private contracting sector has been the thorn in my side. Overall, though, I'm very happy with the work we've been able to do on the interior--it's an amazing transformation! And I feel like I've learned so much along the way.
Question 5. What are you most excited for? When is the shop set to open; and how can people purchase wine in the mean time?
I have such a clear vision in my head of how it will feel in the shop once we are open. I can't wait for the big party!!!!
I just keep imagining opening the door to welcome all our friends and neighbors who have provided such wonderful support and council as we start our new endeavor!
Taking a stab in the dark, I think we should be open mid-April.
In the meantime, we launched a playful on-line shop in October featuring wine packs for free delivery in Portland. www.momandpopwineshop.com
This week we launched a new section called, Featured Artists, with three local artists' wares available alone and in distinctive Valentine Gift Packs with wine. We love the joy wine can bring to people around the dinner table and we think art is a permanent extension of that joy.