Six independent wine retailers have founded the Columbus Wine Collective in an attempt to help educate consumers and help each other.
The CWC’s members are House Wine, Meza Wine Shop, Sher Bliss, The Twisted Vine, Tutto Vino, and Wine on High Bar & Retail.
“We all share a love and passion for wine,” says Tatjana Brown, owner of Meza Wine Shop. “Banding together has given us a sense of community and has really given us the opportunity to provide customers with access to more unique offerings.”
As independent wine retailers face increasing competition from chain grocery stores, the former are emphasizing the shopping experience they provide.
“There is more opportunity for education and personal attention within our community than in a big box store, and our hope is that customers looking for that type of experience will enjoy shopping at one of our independent shops rather than the supermarket,” Brown says.
Independent shops have access to more wine than big box stores and their prices are nearly identical, says Donnie Austin, owner and general manager of House Wine, adding that it’s a matter of conveniently buying big brands made in volume versus interest in better wine for the money.
To illustrate his point, Austin said, “One analogy is buying fruits and vegetables from the local farmer or you can buy a mass-produced tomato crop that’s from a large company and shipped across the country. Do you want a pound of tomatoes or a pound of really good tomatoes when it costs the same?”
In addition to an intimate knowledge of their product, most of the CWC’s current members offer delivery, special ordering, and tastings and events.
The ability to pool money and resources for marketing and events is one advantage to the CWC, Austin says.
Additionally, “There are often wines that we can special order in advance, but must buy the case, and we’re already ordering and splitting these cases with each other,” he adds.
The CWC is accepting new members. The only requirements are that that members be locally owned and operated, with a majority of revenue dedicated to wine retail sales.
“We’ve reached out to the other local wine shops in town and the six of us decided to be the first “class” of the CWC, but we hope other independent shops want to get on board as they’ll see the benefits down the road,” he says.
To learn more about the Columbus Wine Collective, visit ColumbusWineCollective.com.