As most of you know, we’ve been working on opening a second location in Shorewood; we’ve signed a lease and we got our financing finalized last week, so it’s going to happen! Here’s a few answers to the questions we’ve been getting:
Q: Are you crazy?
A: Possibly. We were just starting to get out of debt and have somewhat normal hours – who wants that?!?
Q: Why a second location?
A: See the answer to the previous question. But seriously, we think there’s room in the overall market for another Thief Wine – since we opened in July of 2008 we’ve had an amazing response, but we think there’s still room to grow. Having a second location will enable us to have greater economies of scale and synergies between the two should lead to even greater value for all of our customers. The Cornerstone Building opportunity in particular was too compelling to pass up.
Q: You’ll still have your Milwaukee Public Market location, right?
A: Correct – we love being in the Public Market and the relationships we’ve developed there; we definitely won’t be neglecting that at all and will continue to work at making our MPM shop & bar the best it can be for you.
Q: Why Shorewood?
A: It’s got a great potential customer base – many of our customers are from Shorewood / Whitefish Bay and are extremely excited we’re expanding there. It’s close enough to our MPM location that we can easily coordinate between the two, but far enough away that the two won’t significantly compete with each other.
Q: What and where is the Cornerstone Building?
A: We think Shorewood in general is a great opportunity, but this location in particular is what sold us. The Cornerstone Building is a new construction at the corner of Kensington and Oakland (where the gas station used to be) in the north end of Shorewood. It’s a mixed-use building that will have North Star Bistro (who’s moving across the street into it), Alterra Coffee, Boutique B’Lou, and us on the ground floor, and three floors of higher-end (granite counters, hardwood floors, etc.) apartments above. There will be off-street parking and a great courtyard offset from the street where we’ll have a good amount of outdoor seating.
Q: Um, you do know there’s competition, right?
A: Sure – there’s always going to be competition no matter where you go. We think this is a great location, we’re confident about our ability to provide an unbeatable wine experience – selection, service, price, environment – and based on our current customers’ enthusiastic response we believe there’s a market for what we offer. We know you’ve got numerous options for purchasing wine, and like with our MPM location, we don’t take your support for granted and going to do everything we can to earn that support.
Q: What’s the timing?
A: We should be able to take possession of the space by July 1, build it out in two months, and we’re targeting a September opening.
Q: What will be the differences between the two locations?
A: The Shorewood location will be the same concept as our MPM spot, split roughly half and half between retail and wine bar, but definitely won’t be a carbon copy. It’ll be our own distinct space, so we’ll be able to create the environment – décor, lighting, music, mood – and the bar will have more of an intimate, sophisticated feel (as opposed to the market’s open, bustling environment, which is very cool in a completely different way). It’ll be open later at night, so hopefully will be the ideal way to spend an evening out. (Especially in summer – did we mention we’ll have an awesome courtyard?) There will be a good amount of overlap in the retail selection and possibly wine lists, but with some differences at each location.
Q: Will you offer food?
A: Yes! Via North Star Bistro, who we’ll coordinate with to develop an appetizer / small plates menu for the wine bar. It should be a win for everyone – customers get delicious freshly prepared food, we don’t have the added overhead of a kitchen, and North Star will get more volume and awareness. We’re excited to work with North Star in general – there are a lot of possibilities for synergies, including wine dinners, food / wine pairing classes, use of their private room for seminars, and more.
Q: Who will be where?
A: Initially, of course, we’ll both be running around like crazy getting the new location up to speed. Once we’re settled in, the plan is for Aimee to be at Shorewood 4 days a week and at MPM 2 days a week, with Phil at the MPM 4 days a week and at Shorewood 2-3 days a week. We’ll post our schedule on our site so if you want to talk specifically with either one of us you’ll know when & where we’ll be. Our wonderful staff will grow, and will probably be mainly at one location or the other but will have the flexibility to be at either.
Q: What about my customer rewards?
A: No worries! Our computer systems at each location will be synched to a central server, so your customer rewards will accumulate and be tracked regardless of which location you made your purchase at. Same with your customer history – if you buy something at our MPM location, we’ll be able to look it up in Shorewood.
Q: Last one – hey Phil, aren’t you supposed to be studying for your Master of Wine exam in June?
A: I was hoping you wouldn’t bring that up.