Four years ago, the Brownes decided to expand their ardor for wine into a business, where they could share their knowledge and pair a variety of reds, whites and champagnes with samples from their collection of cheeses, spreads and pâté. The couple then completed a level 2 wine program at the Boston University School of Hospitality Administration, as well as classes offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration “to learn how to deal with different rules and regulations for towns,” Basil said.
Next up was shopping for a location. After a long search that Stephanie said took into account area demographics and population characteristics, among other traits, the Brownes found a spot in Randolph on Route 28 near Interstate 93. The highway proximity brings in diverse customers from Milton, Braintree, Canton and Randolph, she said.
One demographic the couple particularly wanted to draw was the African American market, which Stephanie said has grown dramatically over the last few years.
“Traditionally we wouldn’t find African Americans in wine stores—probably [only] a handful in the state of Massachusetts,” she said.
The wine industry, she added, has also begun to pay more attention to African American consumers in response to their growing demand.
During the wine tasting earlier this summer, the Brownes’ efforts to find the best location appeared to have borne fruit. Shoppers that day, like Nev Das, a woman who bought two bottles of white wine she tasted, said they found the store while driving by.
To accommodate her diverse customer base, Stephanie said she and Basil have stocked Bon Vivant with wines from around the world.
“I have everything for [everyone], from very sophisticated drinkers to people coming to this store I call ‘newbies,’” said Stephanie.
Some Bon Vivant customers said they drink wine not only for pleasure, but also for health.
“It’s well-known that wine raises HDL level,” or a person’s “good” cholesterol level, said Gary Trey, M.D., M.P.H., who chose three bottles of red wine, two of which were made from five different grapes from Massachusetts.
Trey, an instructor at Harvard Medical School, said he drinks wine two or three times a week. He added that drinking 14 glasses of wine per week for men, and seven for women, is very healthy.
More than 100 bottles of wine, categorized by the type of grapes used in its production, were displayed in the store’s wooden rack, which appeared to pop off the shelves behind blue lights. The attention to detail and design caught at least one customer’s eye; looking around the store, Trey said, “It’s beautifully decorated.”
To the Brownes, the store’s appealing decoration and welcoming atmosphere match its name, Bon Vivant — a French phrase identifying a person with refined and sociable tastes.
“I start to think what wine means to me: Serendipity, good life, passion,” Stephanie said. “Bon vivant.”
For more information on Bon Vivant Wine Company, visit www.bonvivantwine.com
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