Once a new vine has been planted in a vineyard, it usually takes at least three years before it produces grapes suitable for winemaking. But Jeff and Chris Huff, owners of the Little Wine Shoppe in St. Anthony Park, began reaping the benefits of their hard work long before the three-year mark.
The award-winning wine store, which opened to accolades from both customers and the local press, will celebrate its third anniversary on May 20. Customer Appreciation Week, May 19–24, will mark the occasion and will include drawings, sales and tastings.
The past three years have not been all sunshine and Chenin Blanc. The Little Wine Shoppe has had to overcome everything from zoning laws to skeptical neighbors. But Jeff Huff says their biggest hurdle is an ongoing one: introducing themselves to new customers.
“The biggest obstacle we have is people’s perception that because we’re small, we’re going to be really expensive,” he said. “Every week somebody new comes in who’s amazed by the fact that we have affordable wine, and a lot of wine under $10.”
Some people also may not realize that the Little Wine Shoppe is open later than many other local businesses: 8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday — as late as the law allows.
Another advantage of shopping at the Little Wine Shoppe is the Huffs’ willingness to special order wine they don’t carry on the shelves.
“We cater to our customers’ needs more than a non-owner-operated wine shop would,” Jeff said.
Chris Huff added, “While the store is small, it provides an intimate environment, so people can get the attention they need. And because we’re limited in what we can carry, everything’s thoroughly thought out.”
The shop stocks anywhere from 325 to 375 labels, 60 to 70 of which are priced under $10, in addition to a full line of spirits and beers.
“Jeff does a great job of making sure that everything here is worthwhile,” said Chris Huff. “What is it they say? That big things come in small packages?”
“That’s kind of our motto,” said Jeff.