For this week’s #ShopFranklin Spotlight, I sat down with Ann Williams of Pour Richard’s Wine and Spirits!
Since opening Pour Richard’s in 2012, Ann and her partner, John Wass, have been helping the Franklin area to “never drink ordinary.” The store’s slogan is a direct reference to what Ann calls the “community of extraordinary people” that shop at Pour Richard’s; “we don’t think our customers are ordinary,” says Ann.
Pour Richard’s grew out of Ann’s 22 years in the wine import and distribution business, and John’s appreciation of wine. The concept for Pour Richard’s stemmed from Ann’s conversations with colleagues in the wine business; according to Ann, “wherever any of us worked, there were the wines that the staff loved, and then there were other things that we had to sell in order to keep our jobs, and they were mostly never the same thing.” At Pour Richard’s, Ann and John can now sell those wines that everyone loved, and they focus on small, independent, often family-owned producers who grow organically whenever possible. These wines are often higher quality than major brand names, and they can also be less expensive than what you’d find in a typical liquor store. Not just a place for wine, Pour Richard’s also presents a well-edited selection of beer, cider, and spirits. “Too much choice is just as crippling as not enough,” Ann says, and that philosophy of careful selection applies to everything Pour Richard’s sells.
Personal assistance is the cornerstone of Pour Richard’s business model, and as you can imagine, tasting is a major part of that. Having a variety of stock open for tasting every day not only helps Pour Richard’s customers to figure out their own tastes, but also helps Ann and John decide what else to recommend. One of Ann’s biggest joys in this business is helping a customer expand his or her palate; Ann says it’s not uncommon for someone to come in and tell her that they don’t like wine because it’s sour. Ann will start them off with sweeter wines such as Moscato and Riesling, then have them try a drier Riesling, “and pretty soon they’re drinking Sauvignon Blanc.” Once you’re a regular at Pour Richard’s, don’t be surprised if Ann or John catches you when you walk in and tells you they just got something brand new that they’re sure you’ll love. Even the customers get into the action; when the store is busy, Ann and John often find that customers end up talking to each other, sharing information, and even “selling each other things,” as a direct result of the store’s open feel and layout.
Pour Richard’s also regularly hosts community events and fundraisers. Events range from monthly education and tasting classes, to quarterly craft beer extravaganzas focusing on seasonal brews, to the Pennywise sale. Before a Pennywise, Ann and John contact their distributors to find out if they have any wines they forgot to sell this year (which sounds funny to those of us not in the business, but Ann assures me it happens all the time!). Distributors pour samples at the event, and whatever you taste and love, you can order in any quantity and pick it up at Pour Richard’s a couple of days later. The store also hosts community fundraisers such as Drink Pink for the Cure, which focuses on rosé wine and donates all ticket sales to the American Cancer Society. Pour Richard’s also donates a portion of sales to the ACS. “It’s a way of contributing to our community and showing our customers that we care about what they care about,” Ann says.
Ann and John chose Franklin as the ideal spot for their store based on the town’s demographics and its easy access to highways. Ann “feels like a Franklin native” because of her daughter’s attendance at Franklin schools and her involvement with the Franklin School for the Performing Arts, and as a business owner, she’s found Franklin to be a great town with a friendly business community. To connect their store even more to the Town of Franklin, Ann and John named Pour Richard’s after Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack; the Pour Richard’s logo even features Ben’s famous spectacles. Ann manages all of the social media marketing for the store herself and tells me that “we’ve placed one [print] ad in the entire time we’ve been in business.” The social media push is working, and Pour Richard’s is starting to pull in customers from all over the area to join that “community of extraordinary people.”