Harry's Wine & Liquor Market hits 70-year mark
Updated 7:11 pm, Wednesday, November 2, 2011
"Our customer service is one thing that has stayed the same," owner Saul Pollack said. "That's definitely been the basis for our longevity."
Saul Pollack, 73, took over the business in 1967 following the death of Harry Pollack, his father who founded the business.
Around that time, Sam Dinerstein, the then-landlord, replaced the original 800-square-foot liquor store with a shopping center, which today contains Harry's and several other shops. Saul Pollack ran the store with his mother, Betty Pollack, for the next 12 years while working as a physical education teacher and wrestling coach for Staples High School.
"I took over full-time in 1979," Saul Pollack said.
That year, he expanded the 900-square-foot store into an adjacent retail space and in 2004 took over four more spaces to grow the shop's total square footage to 7,000 square feet, nine years after buying the shopping center.
Patrick Montleone, the store's general manager for seven years, reaffirmed Saul Pollack's claim that customer service is the key to the shop's longtime success.
"The reputation of the store is built on the idea that if you start with customer service and finish each sale with customer service, you'll always be successful," he said. "That's what builds the store."
To provide a high level of personalized service, most of the store's dozen employees have backgrounds in food for paring meals with the right wines and spirits, Saul Pollack said.
"You won't find that in any store of this size," he said.
Saul Pollack said the down economy has not had a significant impact on sales at the store, which carries an inventory of about 10,000 items on a roughly 5,000-square-foot sales floor.
"It probably affected us for the type of purchases," he said. "The high end has slowed down a bit."
In response to that, the store is looking for different wines at better prices from Greece and Portugal as well as smaller producers in Italy, France and the United States, Montleone said.
"Our wine buyer William Miller is always trying to find the best price to quality," he said. "With the economy down, that becomes a more important skill."
Good times and bad, a big part of Harry's success over the decades has been its ongoing involvement and support of local nonprofit organizations, Saul Pollack said.
"It's our influence in the community and how we handle the community," he said.
On Saturday, Nov. 5, the store will donate different wines for a wine tasting and silent auction to benefit Fairfield Public Schools' creative and innovative programs through the Fairfield Foundation for Education at the Fairfield Museum & History Center. Visit www.fairfieldffe.org for information.
The longevity of Harry's Wine & Liquor Market is a testament to the fact that businesses that build a solid foundation, maintain quality products and exceptional customer service usually last through any economy by having repeat customers, said Linda Matthews, executive secretary of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce.
"Holding fast through both profitable and tough economic times when other businesses have not prepared to adapt to the needs of their customers and the community, shows that Harry's Liquor is a winner," she said.
The store, 2094 Post Road, is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call 203-259-4692 or visit www.harryswine.com for information.