Doug Aylard and his wife have lived in the Cottontown neighborhood for 12 years. Feeling sorely underserved on their side of town, they decided to open Vino Garage four years ago, creating a beer and wine oasis for many of their neighbors who did not want “grocery store wine.”
“I focus most of my business with the smaller distributors. You can get a much better product that has a story, as opposed to something that was developed through a focus group,” said Doug Aylard. “We have wines that were developed by families. Small vineyards, small distributors, everything has been paired back to that nonmarketed, ‘real’ example of wine from that area.”
What drives his business is the support of the surrounding Columbia neighborhoods. He credits 80 percent of his business to the almost 2,000 households within a mile of its location, including Earlewood, Elmwood, Cottontown and Keenan Terrace.
The wine selection is broken down into domestic wines grouped by whites and reds, then selections from France (situated north to south), Italy (situated north to south), Spain, other European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, South Africa, Argentina and then sparkling wines and rosés.
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As for the beer, Aylard said he didn’t want to become a “beer geek store.” He focuses on local suds, as well as regional, good domestics and seasonals, which have proven popular.
Aylard said 85 percent of the beer and wine he sells is meant to be consumed within a week of purchase, so you’re looking at a $10-$13 price range.
“Most of my customers are looking for something to go with dinner, whether it’s a beer or wine,” he said. “They’re looking for a convenient stop on the way home, and that’s what I decided to be.”
Vino Garage customers like perusing the shelves for a good bottle at a good price. Regionally, France wine sells the best (since most people are looking for wines to go with food, and most French wine is made to go with food), Italy and then Spain. A 2009 Bordeaux for $12.99? Just another day in the life of Vino Garage.
With the attention North Main is starting to attract, Aylard said getting people from downtown is easier than it used to be.
“I really hope to see The Vino Garage at the center of a vibrant business district,” he said. “I truly believe this area has the most growth potential in terms of retail, manufacturing and economic growth but people still have a negative stigma (of North Main). We’re working really hard to get that changed.”
The Vino Garage
WHERE: 2327 Main St.
WHEN: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Closed Sunday. 5-7 p.m. first Saturday monthly, wine tasting; 5-7 p.m. third Saturday of monthly, beer tasting.
SEE IT THERE: “Come in a good mood and come wearing clothes.”