It's hard to resist the lure of big box stores this time of year. The turkeys are cheaper. The deals are abundant. You can usually cross all the items on your list off in one convenient shop.
But in advance of Small Business Saturday, Oakton Patch is highlighting small businesses in our area, including Oakton Wine Shop.
Read a question-and-answer session with the shop's owner, Bryan Gauthier.
Give us a little history behind the Oakton Wine Shop. When did you open? Why did you choose Oakton?
Oakton Wine Shop opened in June 2011. I have spent 20 plus years in the wine and food business both in retail stores and restaurants. I started OWS because I enjoy interacting with people and helping them find the perfect wine for their table, a gift for someone or for them to store in their cellars for future consumption. I chose Oakton because when I looked at the Northern Virginia this area was not being served by any wine shop which focused solely on wine, beer and cheeses. Plenty of grocery stores in the area but not with a staff which could tell you the difference between one bottle and the next.
What are some of your most popular wines people are buying this time of year?
This time of year reds are more popular, especially those from Spain, Burgundy and California. In particular wines from Laukote winery in Spain, Domaine Maillard from Burgundy and Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir.
Do you have any tips for buying wine as a gift?
Several tips actually, first if you do not know what type of wine the person you are giving the wine to likes, then stick to the classics, Cabernet, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Chianti, Bordeaux, Burgundy or Champagne. If you know what they like branch out to area they might not have tried before as a way of getting them to try something new. Lastly asking one of the associates at Oakton Wine Shop for several selections which fit your budget and we can help you out.
Why is Small Business Saturday important to you? What will Oakton Wine Shop be doing to celebrate Small Business Saturday?
Small Business Saturday is important to me and other businesses like mine because it helps give us a way of being able to compete with malls and large businesses which are offering huge sales on black Friday a chance of being noticed in the craziness of the season. Like last year we will be offering 10% off all sales starting from the first bottle and 15% off on mix and match cases. In addition to show our support to the other businesses in the shopping center (which are mostly small business owners) we are offering an additional 5% off if you bring in a receipt from Tabby Cat, Kob Kun Restaurant, Austin's Big and Tall from a purchase on Saturday 11/24.
Your small wine shop is competing in a market filled with big box stores (grocery stores, Total Wine, etc.). What are some challenges you face in that business environment?
In these current economic conditions it is difficult for any business and especially small businesses to compete. The most important components to competing in this market is customer service and price. We put in a lot of effort to finding the wines, beers and cheeses we sell to insure quality products and solid prices. The challenges we have to overcome are the mindset of "Well Oakton Wine Shop is a small business they have to be more expensive, then the big box stores." While they do offer loss leaders on very well-known brands over all their pricing on most products is actually higher than ours. Even though we have a great location we still need to get noticed, every day I meet new people who live in the area and do not know we are here. By offering a wonderful selection of hand-picked wines, great customer service, and great pricing we will continue to be a part of the community for a long time.