Connie and I did something absolutely fascinating recently. We attended a hearing of the Hamilton County Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Many years ago, when I was a commercial loan officer, I had a delightful customer by the name of Doug Pendleton. He owned a western store. I left that bank and he closed his business and we lost track of each other. Then, he remarried and the lovely lady he married happened to be not only a friend from Kiwanis but the ex-wife of my closest male friend. Small world, eh? Time marched on and Doug and Linda bought a gourmet grocery and wine store in Zionsville, Indiana.
Zionsville is a quaint village with a brick main street. My grandparents moved out there in the 30's. The home they lived in is the home that a friend later grew up in. Another small world. Grandpa was one of the instigators behind the brick main street. When my brother John and I were kiddos, Grammie would walk us from their home down to the main street and we'd visit the grocery and get a doughnut from Aunt Doris, then to Silver's Menswear where Grandpa worked before he died, then on and on. Zionsville became one of my favorite places.
The Grapevine Cottage has been our go-to wine store since Connie and I met. All of the folks who work there are so knowledgeable. We can take a menu in and they can choose the perfect wine for us. Doug writes a weekly newsletter that's a must-read for me. (You can subscribe my visiting www.grapevinecottage.com) He's become known as The Wine Guy. But, in addition to wine, they've got a wonderful gourmet food selection.
Now, fast forward. My favorite gourmet food store was Frasiers. It was owned by Joy and Myron Frasier. Let's just say I've known Joy for a couple of years. Like, I was the first babysitter for her kids. Joy and Myron decided it was time to not work 70 hours a week but they didn't want to totally get out of the business. So, they closed the store instead of selling it.
Turns out Doug and Linda saw a tremendous business opportunity. Frasiers is on the northeast side of Indianapolis. Zionsville on the northwest. The old Frasiers location would be perfect for a second Grapevine Cottage. They applied for a license and were absolutely startled to find some package liquor stores at the hearing. These folks wanted them to have to buy a package liquor license that would've precluded them from selling the variety of grocery items they now carry. And, coincidentally, the package liquor license is MUCH more expensive. Ah, they were really afraid of the competition. The big guys were trying to squash the little guys. Now, I've owned a small business for about 22 years. Before that, I was a commercial loan officer for small businesses. The power grab by the big guy honked me off. Where was free enterprise? Isn't that what our country was founded on??? Connie was equally honked off. We knew we really didn't have time to go. But, we felt compelled to go. What if the big guy was trying to trample me? Wouldn't we want our friends to show up?
I'll cut to the chase here. Doug and Linda got the license. Their attorney was magnificent as were they. The 25 supporters in the hearing probably set a record since it's the naysayers that normally show up. The owner of Crown Liquors lost a lot of customers that day when he ranted against Doug and Linda. I know I'll never step foot in one of his stores again.
So, here's to Doug and Linda, free enterprise and the little guy winning. We're so looking forward to having a Grapevine Cottage close to us.