1. Hire an attorney and receive a stack of documents that need to be filled out and a list of documents you need to amass. Do so and then wait. After a few months of waiting, call and discover that said attorney forgot to file the paperwork. Start all over again. Do so, then wait some more, then call to ask after the license and wait some more. Repeat.
2. While you are waiting, design the new store in your head, then on paper (or cocktail napkins), with friends. Feel good about the design. Get to work. Then invite more friends to see your work and based on their input, begin redesigning everything. (Luckily you have plenty time! See Step 1.) Make new chandeliers, take the tasting table apart and have one custom built. Order 1000 pounds of steel shelving and beg friends to come over and help move it around. Hope that they don’t offer more design input.
3. Call attorney and get a wait-and-see answer, press him, and receive an email in which he pushes the SLA to hurry its ass up and get to your application.
4. Put shelves together, start painting them. Grub Street will want to come take pictures. Pray that the photographer coming is smart and talented and willing to photograph only the small portions of the store that are ready and not photograph the rest of the store, which is in shambles. (Still 10 days until opening, right?) Discover said photographer is a magician because the photos look like you’re done and just hanging around waiting for the rest of the wine to arrive (instead of tearing your hair out).
5. Get the call that you are on the SLA hearing schedule. Schlep up to 125th Street and watch as another wine store owner-to-be has his application rejected. Contemplate crying or showing the board pictures of your daughter, the one who won’t be able to eat if the store doesn’t open soon. If you’re lucky, the board will like your attorney and approve the application with a congratulations and a We know you are going to do a great job in your new location. Repress desire to scream with joy. Ask for expedience in the issuing of the license — the days of getting a temporary on the spot are no more.
6. Back at the store, make sure that you choose a very toxic paint that is impossible to deal with. Hire anybody you can to help you paint. Place orders with all the companies you hope to be getting wine from.
7. Discover on Monday that your attorney is not in his office, so no license. Tuesday, then, is out of the question. Hold out for Wednesday! But receive no good news on Wednesday. Get attorney to push the SLA to issue the license due to economic hardship. Receive the call on Thursday at noon: The license is here, come get it. Let the crazy begin. Learn that Verizon doesn’t like Williamsburg, so your phone line won’t really work, but somehow you jerry-rig the situation and simultaneously try to fax the license copy and resale certificates to at least 12 different wine companies within the one hour you have before their order boards close for the day. Manage somehow to order 249 cases of wine to be delivered and put away the next morning, opening day.
8. Friday is here! Spend some time obsessing about finding the right flowers for the window display, get to the store to find half the wine there, all of which needs to be entered into the POS system, tagged, and put away. Feel overwhelmed. Enlist your neighbor to put away wine for hours while her daughter happily watches Yo Gabba Gabba on the iPad. You are open now! Customers arrive, gingerly treading on broken-down boxes and finding wine they like. Then discover that your credit card line still doesn’t work, your voicemail — which you are locked out of for some reason — says you will be opening in a few weeks, so use the phone line for credit cards and hope that everyone who calls will psychically intuit that the message is old. (This will totally happen.) Find out that the new sleek keyboard you ordered is incompatible with your scanner so everything has to be manually entered.
9. Wake up Saturday and be amazed at how busy you were on Friday, and then buckle in for an even busier Saturday. The out-of-the-gate running type of busy. Look around and see all of the wines that need tags and what needs to be restocked or taken downstairs, ignore this, and sell to the best of your ability. Find a way to be kind to the person who dropped their gum in your newly planted planter box and cannot stop shouting “Did you know Malbec came from France” and “Who knew Malbec came from France?” Resist urge to say “We knew.” Lock the door at 11:30 and hope that the next day will be more calm.
10. Now the fun starts in earnest. Order spirits. Talk to the many great new customers. Resist the urge to cry when yet another lovely person tells you how happy they are to have you here, how beautiful the store is, how great your wine selection is. The salespeople start coming to call, like zombies pulled from their graves in hunt of fresh blood. The good ones are polite and will email you their information in advance. The old-school ones will want you to buy 20 cases of mass-produced cheap Italian wine because that, of course, is what people want and at $4 a bottle, how can you say no? Reply that $4 bottles of wine are wonderful but only if they come from winemakers instead of corporations. Receive blank stares. Go home and cry, because your desk is not set up and you need to file a million pieces of paper and set up your media marketing better, tweet more, write more blog posts, finish the spreadsheets, hire at least 2 more people and also run your very well-received and busy wine store.
Postscript: I love it, but wow, I would marry my housecleaner if she’d have me.
Thank you to all of Williamsburg, and especially to our old favorite customers who have come out to see us. We are almost there!
Monday - Thursday: 12-10
Friday - Saturday: 12-11
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Wednesday, June 19, 6-9pm: French Wines from Selection Massale
Wednesday, June 26, 6-9pm: Txakoli with Andre Tamers of De Maison Selections
Friday, June 28, 6-9pm: Spirits from Domaine Select
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