After three decades and thousands of bottles of wine, November will mark the end of the road for the Leesburg Vintner.
Owner Mike Carroll said this week he plans to retire and close up shop by early November, a little over 31 years since he opened his shop at the corner of King and Loudoun streets in downtown Leesburg in October 1988.
“It’s time,” he said.
Carroll said his decision to close was not the result of a decline in business. Rather, he believes he could keep the shop running another 10 years if he wanted to. But retail is a tiring business and, just shy of his 62nd birthday in December, he is looking forward to being off for a few holidays and enjoying more time with his wife, JoAnne, and their children. It’s JoAnne, in particular, he credits with his and the Vintner’s success, as she has been supportive of the venture from day one, he said.
Carroll opened the Vintner after selling wine in Arlington for 13 years, starting at the age of 18. When he turned 21, he knew he wanted to make a career of it, but at the time didn’t have the means to open his own wine shop. At 30, the corner store at King and Loudoun streets became available and the rest, as they say, is history. Including his time in Arlington, Carroll has been selling wine for 43 years.
“It’s in my blood,” he said.
The Vintner has survived the openings of all the big-box competitors that sell wine that have opened in Leesburg over the years, including Costco, Wegmans, and most recently, Total Wine.
“I’ve never had a bad year,” he said. “This corner has been so, so good to me.”
He credits a loyal customer base and a great staff that has kept the Vintner running for its three decades. He’s particularly proud of being able to supply his customers with Virginia wines, including his own small operation at Carroll Vineyards that he also expects to wind down when the store closes.
The Vintner, he said, “has become like a little visitor center for the Virginia wine industry.”
And while many flock to the Vintner for its wine selection and expert staff guidance, it’s Carroll the character, with his affable personality, that is just as much of a draw.
“That’s one advantage of a small business over the big box [competitors],” he said. “If you can kill it on customer service and have a good product … that’s been a big part of what’s kept us going.”
Carroll admits that as the shelves grow bare as November draws closer it will be emotional to see the Vintner’s business wind down. He said he’s looking forward to seeing all of his loyal customers in the coming months. Post-closing, Carroll is looking forward to patronizing all the wineries and breweries that have opened up in the past few years that he has not been able to get to while running the shop.
“It was a hard decision to make, but sometimes you’ve just got to pull the trigger and make it happen,” he said. “It’s been quite a ride.”