NUTLEY, NJ - The Nutley Wine Shop opened its doors in 1933 the same year the prohibition came to an end - the novel coronavirus pandemic will not shutter it.
Owner Mike Martin, assures his store is and will remain safe for its customers. “We are wearing gloves, face masks. I put up the plastic ‘sneeze shield,’ every 2 to 3 hours we wipe every handle and knob on doors with Lysol, and we can’t serve people without a mask. We are just taking every precaution here, keeping staff safe,” he said.
According to Martin, the majority of the customers understand they can’t enter without a face mask or covering. “Everyone is taking it really seriously,” he said.
Martin had to cut his staff down to about three employees to keep to social distancing. He took over many of the staff responsibilities doing basically everything including garbage, recycling, stocking shelves and receiving. “Lost 90 percent of the staff, just me, my daughter and my niece now,” he said.
The shop has had a lot of traffic since the pandemic reached Nutley. Although the rush was busier in the first five to six days of statewide shutdown, Martin said it has leveled to a steady pace now. The heaviest flow of customers is in the morning and between 4 and 8 p.m. but Friday and Saturday are still the store’s busiest days. People are even shopping for their friends in Pennsylvania. “We are crazy busy… In the beginning people were buying in larger quantities, no one knew what was going on, so with uncertainty people did up buy,” said Martin.
When Trenton officially shut down New Jersey’s nonessential businesses on March 22, Gov. Phil Murphy included liquor stores as essential, along with grocery, office supply and home improvement stores. “They made us an essential. I’m glad for my customers that we are essential, after homeschooling you may need that glass of wine at 4 or 5 o’clock,” Martin said. The shop however is closing earlier, at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. to honor the curfew set by the state.
Martin is doing his best to keep the store well stocked, however some suppliers have changed the quantities of allowable purchase and some items are not available. “My supply chain, one of my many liquor distributors I can’t buy by the bottle anymore, only by the case. Some things I may buy three or four bottles I now have to commit to 12 and I won’t buy it. My beer company are out of stock on a lot of things. It just changes what’s available,” he said
While most liquor stores closed their doors to the public, only offering curbside pick-up or delivery, Martin said his shop is big enough to allow for five people at a time and keep the recommended 6 feet of space to social distance.
Nutley Wine Shop is however offering curbside pick-up to its customers. “A lot of people are taking advantage of it. I can’t afford to have a guy do deliveries. I will come out and put it in their car,” said Martin.
Although the store is not currently offering deliveries, if things change, and they are forced to close Martin said he will offer the service. “We figure it out as we go. The dynamics have changed, everything has changed a bit,” he said.
Nutley Wine Shop is a member of the Nutley Chamber of Commerce and is located at 558 Franklin Ave.
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