SIMSBURY, CT (WFSB) - Lisa Hamel opened the original Wine Etc. in 2013 in Granby and then opened a location in Simsbury right at the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020.
"We hear often, 'We didn't even know you were here'," Hamel noted.
But she's taken a traditional concept of a liquor store and turned it into an experience.
"When you come in here to shop, you're going to get a lot of individualized attention, but beyond that, you can book an event, so we have all different kinds of opportunities for customers and one thing we're doing that we're very excited about is this blind wine tasting," says Hamel.
The blind wine tasting is new.
You can sign up for a small gathering at the table where you'll try four wines, take notes, and rate your favorite, but you won't know what you're tasting until the very end.
Then, you get to take home your favorite bottle all wrapped up and that gifting is also part of the experience.
"We are Wine Etc. and part of the etc. is we want everything that goes along with the wine too, so yes, we do have custom gift sets ready to go, but we also have people frequently come in and say, 'Hey, I'm looking to spend this price point, I'm looking to put a gift together, I'd like you to customize something,', whether it's for him or her or something in particular that they're looking for within a price point so we can go ahead and put some custom things together if that's something people want, and we do that often," continued Hamel.
Of course there's wine, but there's also spirits you can sample, craft beer and cocktail kits, cheese, and chocolate.
Hamel partnered with another small business, Bite Boxes, to pair wine with charcuterie you can order and pick up.
Then there's the wine fairy.
"We started getting all these online orders with custom gift messaging for anniversaries, for birthdays, and we'd go out into the community and deliver the product right to the customer and they had no idea. It was mostly anonymous and it was just a great way in a time when people were really discouraged to bring some cheer and some joy and encouragement, and that concept kind of stuck," Hamel added.
Hamel says serving her community is the most important part of the business.