For owner Gary Fisch, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace is more than a shop. “It’s Disney World for the adults,” he declares. “We have an extensive selection of all things alcohol.”
For instance, the company’s stores carry more than 3,000 wines, as well as an extensive selection of beers that range from microbrews to domestic and imported products. Additionally, the stores sell gourmet foods, wine accessories and publications, flowers, stemware and cookbooks.
Fisch founded Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in 1987, after working for a liquor wholesaler. “That led me to the path of retail,” he recalls, adding that he also was driven by his love of wines.
Since then, the company has grown from its beginnings as a modestly sized wine shop to become one of the largest fine wine businesses within the New York metropolitan area, it says. Gary’s Wine & Marketplace currently has store locations in Wayne, Madison and Bernardsville, N.J.
Fisch himself has gained notoriety for his knowledge of wine. According to the company, he has been featured as “The Wine Guy” on the Food Network show “Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay,” and made appearances on CNN and Bloomberg radio and television.
In addition, “We do a lot of charity work,” Fisch says, noting that the company gives to three to four charities each year, which have included the Morristown Memorial Hospital, the Interfaith Food Pantry and the Jersey Battered Women’s Service.
Gary’s Wine & Marketplace has stayed successful by placing an emphasis on service, Fisch says. “We have true professional wine people on the floor at all times,” he states, noting that the company’s staff often helps customers choose their wines. To make sure the company stays on top of cutting-edge wine trends, Fisch and his employees travel to vineyards extensively. Some of the Recent destinations have included New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Bordeaux, France. “We’re constantly meeting growers and wine makers, and we’re bringing that [knowledge] back to New Jersey,” Fisch explains.
In addition, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace provides training for its employees. For instance, the company recently held a tasting where 50 wines were brought in from one importer for its employees to try.
“We probably had 30 people [attend] the morning sessions, [and] 25 in the afternoon sessions to get our staff trained,” he recalls. “It’s almost like a good restaurant that does pre-meals.”
No Stone Unturned
Gary’s Wine & Marketplace also stays successful by constantly changing, Fisch says. “We’re always looking at what’s new,” he says. “We leave no stone unturned.” Recently, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace started sourcing wine for its very own house label. Fisch notes that the company’s extensive expertise in wine has helped it throughout this endeavor, as it has grown to know many within the wine industry.
“We taste an enormous amount of wine,” Fisch says, noting that he and his employees will travel annually to Premiere Napa Valley, a winter wine auction in Napa Valley, Calif. “It allows us to taste literally hundreds of wines.” He notes that this year, the company’s employees tasted 200 wines in a 2008 vintage. “I always bring at least two to three people with me,” he says.
Providing Better Deals
Gary’s Wine & Marketplace has felt the effects from the economy, Fisch says. “Last year, there was a push down in price point,” he says, noting that the company needed to adjust its selection.
To do so, the store “added much more lower-priced wines, as well as held back on some of the higher-end [products],” Fisch recalls. “We saw the consumer was willing to buy, but they wanted a better deal for a value.”
Despite these challenges, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace remains open to growth opportunities, Fisch says. “If something presents itself, we will definitely look at it,” he says, noting that the company may add another location in the future.