My Wine & Such Story
When I opened Wine & Such in November 2021, I had a vision of creating something more than a retail wine shop. I am sure 99% of people who start a shop think the same thing. While easily said, it is not so simple to pull off, yet I was determined to make the space feel different. Over the past years we feel we have created something special. To quote one of our customers “Your shop has made the world a little bit better of a place.” Cue teary eyes.
Wine is intimidating. Wine & Such will never be intimidating.
You might worry about coming in and not knowing your Left Bank from your Barossa. Don’t, that’s literally our job, and wine is about communicating the story from the winemaker to the sipper. It is our job to find the best way to communicate these stories, to make drinking your bottle the best experience possible. Wine is an agricultural product at the end of the day, with hard work going into each bottle. The more we celebrate the work that each winemaker puts into the bottle and the choices they make, the more we enjoy the drinking experience.
It isn’t about drinking more or drinking crazy higher priced; it’s about drinking better. This, at the end of the day, is what I hope Wine & Such will help you do.
So why the heck are we moving again?
Unfortunately we discovered from day 7 that our landlord would not allow us to operate the business as we had agreed prior to signing the lease. A year later, after seeking legal advice, we decided to execute our break clause and exit the lease. It is certainly not something we wanted or anticipated doing, but at the end of the day we must be able to operate the shop as we see best without fear of monetary liability or landlord overreach at every turn. Even just trying to exit the lease has cost us significant sums of money and we aren’t in the clear yet. Despite improving the premises we are facing a £27,000 repairs and dilapidation bill that we will now have to fight with our solicitor.
Having to move and build out three shops in two years has taken its toll. While Wine & Such is eking out a small profit each month, the reserve funds aren't there to build out another shop (considering we have already done it three times...) plus the legal fees of a new lease. We want to build a new Wine & Such that offers even more than we do now. That includes more tastings and being able to enjoy a glass of wine in the shop. We are excited that our offer has been accepted on a unit in Blackheath Standard. Papers are shuffling, signatures are (about to be) flying, and we're determined to create a space where the wine flows as freely as the laughter.
We are hoping to be open again this spring. But we must first refurbish and build out the new unit.
Here is a breakdown of the costs we are aiming to fundraise for:
- Shop Sign & Awning (to keep you dry when it inevitably rains)- £1750
- Legal Fees for the new lease (solicitors ain't cheap)- £5000+
- As a small business, not only do I have to pay my solicitor fees, I also have to pay the new landlord’s fees and their solicitor, along with surveyor fees.
- Plus we have already had to spend £4000 this summer on a solicitor to help execute our break clause to make sure our landlord couldn’t come back saying we hadn’t done so properly.
- None of the Crowdfunder takes into account the costs we will need to pay to fight the £27,000 bill the current landlord has handed us.
- Shop Fit Out (I can do a lot of the work, electrical work I cannot)- £7500
- The fit out includes new flooring in the shop area, new electricals and lighting, renovating the bathroom, plumbing work, building a bar counter, installing heating…the fit out for this shop is our biggest yet.
- Wine & Such Rebranding (I did it the design the first go, but I need to enlist a professional to take us to the next step)- £1000
- Furniture (so you can have somewhere nice to sit while you enjoy your wine, no more Ikea stools for you!)- £1750
- Premise Licence Fees (we need to be officially licensed to be your go-to winehaven in Blackheath Standard)- £450
- Moving Fees (I can move a lot of wine boxes, but ain't no way the fridge is fitting in our car)- £750
This conservative estimate comes to a grand total of £18,200. Quite the hefty sum, as you can imagine.
Yet, it’s still really conservative in terms of a shop fit-out and that’s because I’m budgeting to have to match this amount with my own funds. I am sure there will be more costs that pop-up once we are in the shop. And if we have learned anything from Grand Designs, we should immediately double our budget.
But why should you care (and/or donate)?
You Deserve A Vibrant High Street…
Because this part of Southeast London deserves a great high street with interesting venues that you want to visit regularly, and CAN visit regularly. I sound like an old curmudgeon, but I am always banging on about value. That’s what Wine & Such offers. East London doesn’t get to have all the cool $hit. We know as local residents that we would want to frequent Wine & Such and tell all our friends about. We want you to feel the same way and that is our plan. Don’t expect pretentious over priced wines. Expect great value and a warm welcome.
Everyone wants these types of small businesses in their neighbourhood. What many people don’t realise, including myself! when I started this journey, is just how difficult and risky it is for small businesses. Unlike large corporations, we are personally responsible for any financial difficulties. While we have been moderately successful in the business so far, fighting our current landlord has really put a crunch on our reserve funds.
What will the experience feel like?
Here’s a video that explains shopping at Wine & Such and what makes us different.
At the end of the day, it is the experience which make life special. A delicious bottle of wine or food is enhanced and becomes more memorable because of the experience you have while consuming it. The Provence effect is a real thing. You go back to a restaurant not just because of the food, but for the hospitality. That’s why a restaurant with delicious food but terrible service fails. Be it the people you are with, the environment you are in, or the circumstances that got you there, all come together to make your individual experiences richer and more memorable.
I still dream of the bar in Jerez we visit as soon as we land. Even though I speak only terrible Spanish and the owner speaks no English, everytime we visit we are greeted warmly and like we are regulars. Jokes are made, stories told through hand gestures, and I yearn to visit on a weekly basis.
I want Wine & Such to have this ethos at its core. Yes, come buy a bottle of wine, but enjoy the experience of choosing that bottle just as much. Whether because of our tasting notes, which I hope makes choosing a wine less intimidating, or the feel of the shop, which aims to feel more like a living room and less like a retail buying space, or our chat. With the new shop, this idea expands into having glasses of wine in the shop. It won’t be a bar, but it’s about the wine, not the label. So who cares what we call it, we just want it to be the place you want to come. Everyday.
Thank you for all the support over the years to our current customers (many who are now friends) and thanks in advance to our customers we have yet to meet.
If you are able to donate that is wonderful and I thank you from the bottom of my wine loving heart.
It would also help us immensely if you would please share our story to help spread the word.
See you for a glass of wine soon.
Cheers, Steph (& Freddy)