By John ~ December 3rd, 2010.
If there is a more excited guy in Seattle today than Lenny Rede, he must literally be flying. Rede, the Operations Manager of the new Wine World Warehouse just off of I-5 at NE 45th Street in Seattleâ€™s Wallingford neighborhood, could hardly contain himself as he gave us a tour of their new wine superstore during the â€œfriends and mediaâ€ grand opening event Wednesday evening. Yesterday was the public grand opening of the business billed as â€œThe Largest Wine Shop in the Northwestâ€; open 7 days a week from 11am-9pm.
â€œOur focus is to cover the value market of $20 and under, while giving the customer Nordstrom-quality customer service.â€ â€“Lenny Rede, Operations Manager
The front half of the store is devoted to Northwest wines, mostly from Washington. The other half of the store stocks wines from around the world, categorized by region. There are two thirty-foot long wine tasting bars in the center of the store where they plan to have free wine tastings every evening. There is also a window-lined 5,000 square foot catering area and event space along one side of the store.
Rede is â€œMr. Insideâ€ and Sommelier and Founder David LeClaire is â€œMr. Outsideâ€ in this business, funded by 13 investors, many of them hands-on participants. â€œWe just signed the lease on this old Office Max location in early October, so itâ€™s been a race to get it renovated, licenses secured, and the store stocked and opened before the big rush of the holiday buying season,â€ said Rede.
According to Rede, Phase 1 is to get the bricks and mortar store staffed and up and running. Within months, he hopes to have twice as many different items for sale as they have today, including wine, beer, cheese, wine accessories, and gift items. Phase 2 includes a Reserve Cellar for special tastings, winemaker dinners, and the sale of cult wines, as well as a demo kitchen in which to hold classes on wine pairings, etc. Phase 3 is to get an online store up and running to compliment the bricks and mortar business.
Donâ€™t let â€œWarehouseâ€ in the store name fool you. While they plan to offer over 8,000 wines, many for under $20, in the 23,000 square foot store, the atmosphere is comfortable and modern with cushy leather chairs in a lounge area and flat screen TVâ€™s above the tasting bars.
â€œThink Barnes & Noble rather than Costco.â€ â€“Lenny Rede, Operations Manager
When asked about their business model and their chances for success in this economy, Rede said, â€œAt our price point, we need to move 70 cases of wine a day to make this work.â€ Can they do it? Only time will tell. They have a great location that quite frankly looks a little sparse right now, and theyâ€™ve had some startup operational glitches; but if you can turn enthusiasm into sales, Wine World Warehouse will be a huge success.
Filed under: General Wine Information, Washington State Wine, Wine Shops