Part II of our interview with Alyssa Becker, owner of Brooklyn wine shop, Donna Da Vine.
SwirlSavvy: When did you open the shop?
Alyssa: We opened halloween of 2008. I couldn't have picked a better day of the year. People love to let loose and enjoy themselves on Halloween and my neighborhood is so great about coming together and enjoying as a community. For our 1 yr anniversary this year we'll be having a killer tasting to mark the occassion.
SS: What were some of the initial challenges?
A: The hardest part for me was getting the liquor license. It's a long process and you never know until your finally called before the commission, about a 6-8month process(and that's a conservative estimate) whether or not they'll grant you a license. It's a nerve wracking situation...but lucky for me people on the commission saw my vision and knew that I would be an asset to the neighborhood and granted me my wine license. THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
SS: What's challenging now?
I think what's always a challenge for me is sticking to that initial vision. When customers come in they have all kinds of special requests, suggestions...etc, and I love to hear them because it helps me give them what they need. But the hardest part of my job day in and day out is staying true to my vision, my taste (which is really off the beaten track-and what brought the customers into my shop in the first place) and balancing that with what customers really want and what makes them happy. Every day it's a juggling act, but with 400+ frequent buyers on my list it seems like I'm making it work. And I hope to continue to keep that balance between the wines I love and the needs of my customers.
SS: What do you like best about running a neighborhood wine shop?
A: What else...the neighborhood, and the people in it. I love knowing pretty much every customer that walks in the store- their kids names, their dogs names and what the last bottle of wine they purchased was . I grew up in brooklyn and I've chosen to raise my family here in Boerum Hill - I love being an integral part of the neighborhood and sharing my first love with the people who live here.
SS: If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?
A: Nothing else worth doing...no matter what I would have found a way to do this.
SS: How many hours a week do you work?
A: 24/7. Owning your own place is beyond a full time job, Even if I'm not at the store- I'm out tasting wine, updating our website or placing orders with my distributors (usually while I'm trying to entertain my 5 month old). But I wouldn't have it any other way.
SS: What advice do you have for others who dream of owning their own wine shop?A: Patience is key when starting your own business...especially a wine shop. It's a lengthy process so don't lose faith. And drink a lot of good wine along the way.