SHERMAN — Bill Piazza and his fiancee Kelly Becker know about customer service.
Piazza worked for Quality Markets for 30 years and Becker has a long history in restaurants: her parents owned Monagan’s Pizza in Jamestown.
And after almost three years of success with their most recent venture, Feelin’ Saucy Pizzeria, the couple are now looking to help lift spirits in downtown Sherman — literally.
Piazza and Becker opened B K Wine & Spirits on Oct. 1. The liquor store is located at 107 W. Main St., adjacent to the pizza shop.
“It’s something that hasn’t been in Sherman for years from what I understand,” Piazza told The Post-Journal. “We were hoping just to bring a little bit more life downtown, do something to bring and have more to offer to people that are maybe driving through the area and seeing what’s down there. There are a lot of businesses closing and we were hoping to bring a little bit more variety into the area.”
The couple have yet to venture into liquor sales before, Piazza noted, but said they are learning as they go. Noble Wineries of Westfield will be their featured local wine to start.
“It’s definitely been a huge learning curve in terms of learning how a liquor store operates, learning about the best way to go about purchasing product,” he said. “We have had experience with the public and customer service. It’s just applying that to the liquor store and there’s been quite a bit of a learning curve.”
Part of that learning curve has been the purchasing power of featured product.
“One of the biggest things that we found was you’re buying power would have a lot to do with what you’re able to carry,” he said. “As we go, we’ll be able to add more variety and more of the local wineries.”
Opening amid a global pandemic isn’t for the faint of heart, he noted. Piazza explained that the biggest challenge has been setting up a timeline to open.
“At the beginning when the pandemic was really hitting, a lot of things were unsure,” he said. “A lot of the state departments were sort shorthanded, they weren’t staffed as much as they normally would have been so everything was moving a lot slower.”
Becker said that they applied for a license to open the store a year ago.
“It was over a year ago that we actually mailed the license to the state and they finally looked at in February,” he said, explaining that once things were in order, working with the state was easier than expected.
“The state was very cooperative,” he said. “They just explained that they appreciated our patience and we understood. We just took it day-by-day. Kelly did all of this work and really, they were very nice to work with.”
In addition to featuring local wineries, Piazza said that the liquor store will feature something unique to the area: delivery.
“We looked into it and the liquor authority told us that as long as we have a vehicle registered to one of us, Kelly or I and we’re the ones delivering that we can deliver,” he said. “We’ll set up some sort of delivery program, where there’s a certain day or two a week or a certain timeframe. The learning experience with the pizza shop was that our delivery took right off and it became 50% of our business. We wondered about doing it with the liquor store and we looked into it. It’s a little more stringent of course and a lot more regulations to make sure we’re doing it properly but we’re happy to make it work.”
B K Wine & Spirits plan to be open seven days a week. Those looking for more information can call (716) 234-4015.
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