Located at 2727 Wilson Blvd, in the old Shoefly space, Grateful Red will carry (the store is still building its inventory) 500-600 bottles of wine, primarily from lesser-known independent producers, including local Virginia wineries. The store also offers beer, gourmet snacks and cheeses, and gifts.
While Screwtop will continue to operate its small retail wine shop, owner Wendy Buckley says she opened Grateful Red in order to offer more variety to customers. Many of the wines at the store can’t be found elsewhere in the immediate area, she said.
“When someone comes here, they won’t see a lot of wines they see in grocery stores,” she said.
Buckley said she’s happy to have hired some of the former staffers from Best Cellars, the Clarendon wine store that closed last year. She said the closing of Best Cellars in Clarendon wasn’t due to a lack of business. Instead, Buckley suggested, the store was doing well, but closed due to financial problems with the parent company.
Store General Manager Amanda Weaver-Page, who formerly managed the Best Cellars location in Dupont Circle, will be offering wine classes at the store, including “wine 101″ and classes that focus on specific wine-growing regions.
Buckley noted that the store is pet friendly, takes pride in its sense of humor. Gifts on sale include funny t-shirts, bedazzled flasks, and an ice cube tray that makes ice in the shape of the Titanic. Although the staff is knowledgeable about wine, Buckley says they “don’t take themselves too seriously.”
Future plans for the store include adding the capability to fill beer growlers, and launching a wine basket delivery service for the D.C. metro area.
Screwtop Wine Bar (1025 N. Fillmore St) informed its customers over the weekend that it will open a retail wine bar in the old Shoefly spot. A Facebook page has been set up for the store, which will be called Grateful Red. Its website just became active today.
The store is expected to open sometime this summer. Screwtop Wine Bar owner Wendy Buckley said she hopes Grateful Red will be able to open its doors by July 4.
Buckley and her staff will aim to provide a mix of wines, ranging from “fancy” to less than $10 per bottle. Buckley said she’s grateful to be able to run a business in an area she loves.
Shoefly had been in business for 10 years, but the owners reportedly decided not to renew the lease.
According to Screwtop Wine Bar owner Wendy Buckley, a county zoning employee “randomly” stopped by just before 4:00 p.m. and took her sandwichboard sign.
“This sign cost me over $175!” Buckley wrote in an email shortly after the incident. “I just got a call… telling me he threw it in a dumpster.”
Also gone: the sign for Bakeshop, the cupcake-and-coffee place down the block from Screwtop. See below for the county’s explanation of why the signs were removed.
“I’m a pretty positive and easy going person,” Buckley said. “But with today’s actions I am beginning to wonder what won’t this county do to hurt small businesses?”
Buckley quickly added that the county board has been “great” and are “the only people who ‘get it'” when it comes to the needs of small businesses.
In fact, during July’s three-hour board discussion of sidewalk seating on Fillmore Street, board member Chris Zimmerman emphatically encouraged his county colleagues to be more permissive with signs, especially sandwich board signs. Zimmerman and other board members spoke specifically about using signs to attract more foot traffic to the sleepy portion of North Fillmore Street where Screwtop and Bakeshop reside.
“Each of us on North Fillmore Street has a sandwich board sign to try and attract eyeballs down from Clarendon Boulevard,” Buckley said. “I am always happy to comply with any law, but our little businesses are doing everything we can to survive on this street. I don’t see how our signs, which are out of the way, can hurt anyone.”
Update at 2:15 p.m. — The head of the Arlington County Zoning Office has responded to our story.
Zoning Administrator Melinda Artman says sandwich board signs are prohibited throughout Arlington County. Despite supportive words for the signs at the July board meeting, Artman says board members must take legislative action in order to permit the signs to be placed on county property.
Screwtop was given three warnings about its sign, Artman says. The first was issued on June 10. The last was issued within the past couple weeks, and included a warning citation that the sign was “subject to immediate removal,” according to Artman.
It is a criminal misdemeanor offense to place a sign on public property in Arlington County. Violations are subject to fines up to $2,500. Screwtop has not been fined.
Artman says the county confiscates hundreds of signs per week, but tries to warn business owners first before removing them.
“Of course we support small business here in Arlington… but the feedback we receive from the community is that sign enforcement is very important to them,” she said.
When a sign is confiscated it’s thrown out, since the zoning office has no storage capacity.
Artman says many businesses, especially in the Ballston area, openly flout the county’s sign regulations. Sign enforcement has become a cat and mouse game; recently inspectors started conducting sign enforcement randomly rather than at set times, because businesses had gotten wise to the inspection schedules. The county now deploys six inspectors on sign enforcement details for three hours each week.
One local’s conclusion about the two-month-old wine bar and cheese shop? Screwtop is “just what the neighborhood needed.”