Wild Common Wine
Proprietor: Kortney Lawlor
Live: Franklin, NY
Previous Life: Costume Supervisor for Film + Television
Activities: Founder: Wild Common Wine Cycling Club, organic gardening, discovering new places through food and wine
Give us a little background about your thought process (which I imagine was pretty fast) during these times and how you turned things around to modify for these times?
We didn’t seem to have much time to process the change- suddenly there were rumors about retail businesses closing as we watched our friends’ restaurants and bars shuttering. There was a large increase of people stocking up on wine and spirits, so we thought we would just stay open for as long as possible to make sure the community could get what they needed. (And by we, I mean me, as I wanted to ensure my employees were safe). When Cuomo declared retail wine stores an essential business, we had a quick strategy session that was basically “order as much as humanly possible”. The global shipping infrastructure was facing challenges and we didn’t know how our supply would be affected. We applied for an emergency loan to increase our inventory and had 300+ cases delivered the following week.
Another way we adjusted was to launch an e-commerce store. It became clear that our customers longed for the visual experience of shopping in our store and seeing all the pretty bottles firsthand.
When did you originally open your shop?
We opened in December 2017
Who were your customers before the crisis and who are they now, are they different?
Our customers are diverse and vary by the season- we have a fair mix of locals, hunters, anglers, athletes, weekenders, tourists, second homeowners. It’s great to see so many familiar faces on a regular basis now, and to meet others that haven’t shopped in the store previously.
Does operating during a state of emergency give you an adrenaline rush?
Of course! It reminds me of my days as a bartender. April is typically the slowest month in the Catskills, but not this year!
Are you doing anything right now just for you?
I’m trying to eat well, sleep well, laugh well. I probably shouldn’t drink as well, but that’s part of the occupational hazard.
What in your day would you want to take with you into the future when this is all over?
Launching a web store has been such a cool process! I never wanted a strong online presence, instead opting for a more analog, personal engagement within the community. But in response to the pandemic, the webstore has provided a platform for customers to continue engaging with us and learning about the small producers and importers we feature. I hope the site conveys the warmth, knowledge and humor that are the benchmark of our brick and mortar store.
How has this crisis changed your business? Do you see this as a temporary solution or is this new way of operating going to now be a staple people should expect after this crisis is over?
I think there is no “normal” now. We are all faced with the challenge of-relearning how we live and conduct business. We stand to grow so much personally, professionally, and culturally and I look forward to seeing how we all come out on the other side.
Community is very important to all small businesses— how has your community played a part in your businesses during these times?
Of course! We consider ourselves so fortunate to call Andes home. Seeing how other small businesses have adapted has been incredibly inspiring- the small local farms, restaurants and retail shops- we share ideas and communicate and help one another however we can. One of my favorite features on our website is the “Local” button that links customers to community resources.
What has been the hardest part of this journey thus far?
The collective uncertainty of this pandemic has been the hardest part. I wish I could hug everyone that is scared, or lost a job, or lost a loved one. But until then, I can offer wine.