The latest limited-edition release of Jack Daniels. A wine from a relatively unknown Loire Appellation in France. A selection of over a dozen mescals from Mexico. Blackwell’s Wine & Spirits has built its niche as San Francisco’s go-to store for the eclectic and the hard-to-find bottles.
And word has spread not just amongst its local customers, but abroad, with orders coming in from the UK, across Western Europe, and Asia.
“What is new and unusual does well in San Francisco,” says owner Gary Blackwell.
Blackwell is happy to give the people what they want. In fact, he has built his business by listening to customer needs and sourcing rare products to fill requests whenever he can. As a self-described hobbyist of wine, Blackwell is a fan of the “obscure or far-left-field, cult-like sorts of things.”
In its 12 years since opening, Blackwell’s Wine & Spirits has survived the recession — a time when buying a bottle of Bordeaux was simply out of the question — along with the era of online shopping and the constant influx of alcohol trends, both old and new. What’s kept this family owned specialty store relevant after more than a decade is its owner’s savvy business logic and ability to effectively listen to customers needs. With a wealth of knowledge, we’ve highlighted some of Blackwell’s key learnings from his career in the alcohol industry thus far.