Mike van Beyrer could qualify as a wine snob. He prefers Old World wines “with a nice balance.” He’s been in the business for 18 years, working at wineries in California and, most recently, a distributor in Atlanta. But that upscale wine background won’t keep him from selling gallons of Yellow Tail, one of America’s most preferred and mainstream wines. At Bottles, his new superstore under construction in Mt. Pleasant, van Beyrer is stocking the place with a healthy balance of high and low. “We want to appeal to all walks of life,” he says. “We’ll have everything from Franzia to Grand Cru Burgundy and everything in between.”
You could compare Bottles to Total Wine, the national chain that has a location in West Ashley, and that would be somewhat apt, but van Breyer’s goal is for his store to be a hybrid, a cross between a big box that boasts unbeatable price points and a neighborhood wine store that offers boutique bottles and personalized service.
But that’s just in regards to wine. The 15,000-square-foot store, which once housed East Cooper Athletic Club, will have much more than grape. It will have one side dedicated to booze, including a lockbox cabinet that will house high-end cognacs, brandies, and bourbons. “We’ll be specializing in bourbon,” van Beyrer promises.
For beer lovers, they’ll have a growler station with six taps, a vast beer cave with kegs and cases, and a huge variety of craft beers. “We’ll have the biggest [selection] in Mt. Pleasant by far,” he says. But, if you’re looking for a cheap, cold suitcase of Bud Light, he’ll have that too.
Van Beyrer’s been thinking on this concept for about three years. “It’s a no-brainer.” For the 10 years he’s lived in Mt. Pleasant, they haven’t had a store like this, but everywhere he’s lived prior always had one. Even West Ashley has one. He figures it’s about time Mt. P gets a big wine superstore, and his will be locally owned and operated, giving it a flexibility a national chain just can’t have. If a local distributor is closing out a wine, Bottles can buy it all, right then and there. The aisles will have stacked cases of wine, which means you can easily buy enough for your next event or party.
“It’s a one-stop adult candy store,” he says, adding that they’ll stock some shelves near the wine tasting bar with gourmet snack foods, something you can grab with a bottle of wine on your way to a friend’s backyard cookout.
What you won’t get is the old bait and switch, where a store lures you in with a loss leader point price, and then tries to sell you their house brand of juice. While that’s a great way to make money, van Beyrer says it’s just not the way they’re going to do things.
Van Beyrer and his partners George McLaughlin and Scotte Peace, who got their start in business as successful McAlister’s Deli franchisees, have been working full-bore on Bottles for about a year now. They were delayed about 45 days last February by some people protesting their liquor license, but when they showed up in court, the folks who filed the protest didn’t, and the judge threw it out.
They’ve got their team in place too, hiring Brent Beam to be the general manager. Beam comes by way of Total Wine, a store he opened and managed for years. Their assistant manager is Jason Selby, who previously worked as a wine and beer buyer at Whole Foods. They’ve hired store workers too, but van Beyrer says they’re always looking for good people.
The shop is located at 610 Coleman Blvd., and they hope to throw open the doors on Tues. Oct. 25. Keep up with their progress by following their Facebook page.