Over the past three decades, Leesburg has seen a lot of change, but one thing has been constant: The northwest corner of King Street and Loudoun Street.
There, Mike Carroll has run Leesburg Vintner for 30 years, first setting up shop in the space in October 1988. At the time, he was running a store in Arlington called Cheese and Bottle with dreams of opening his own business. His father, who worked for REHAU in town, told Carroll the corner shop was up for sale.
“This might as well have been California,” Carroll joked. “Leesburg was so far away. I never came out to Leesburg, living Falls Church.” But that changed when he saw the shop: “I just fell in love with this corner.”
At first, the shop had both wine and a deli. But after a while, Carroll decided to get out of the deli business and focus on wine, a big change at the time.
Today, Leesburg Vintner is known as a spot to swing by and quickly pick up a bottle of wine, or stay for a bit and find something new. It’s also the only place to find wine from Carroll Vineyards—the winery Carroll started about five years ago, with helped from leading Loudoun winemaker Doug Fabbioli. And a big part of Carroll’s business is by email, where he advertises prices competitive with or better than big box stores.
“Talking to the customers and getting the idea of what they want is really what drives it,” Carroll said. “…We’re trying to get away from things you can find in Safeway.”
And the shop’s long history has helped it thrive as the town has changed around it. Carroll recalled dire predictions for his business when businesses like Wegmans or Costco came to town, but he said those haven’t hurt his business at all.
“I’m not sure I’d open up this place today, but with the fact we’ve been here for 30 years, we’ve got a great following,” Carroll said.