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A new era: Grape Expectations moving to the World Wide Web

Mary Earl, owner of Grape Expectations in Old Town Silverdale, is closing her  storefront shop after 24 years and transitioning to online sales only. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
Mary Earl, owner of Grape Expectations in Old Town Silverdale, is closing her storefront shop after 24 years and transitioning to online sales only.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

Longtime Old Town Silverdale storefront closing up.

Mary Earl just bought her first cell phone last week and still uses a calculator to ring up sales, but the longtime small business owner is taking her wine shop to the Internet.

Earl will close Grape Expectations wine shop in Old Town Silverdale and sell the goods online only at www.emaryearl.com.

“We’re going to go high tech. I’m jumping both feet into the electronic world,” Earl said.

She said she hasn’t set a specific date to close the storefront on Byron Street. She had a moving sale last weekend at Grape Expectations to get rid of various wine racks, chairs, shelves and other items inside the store.

“What I do want to do is sell the wine racks, the wine chairs and the wine buckets and so on (before closing the storefront),” she said.

Grape Expectations has been in business for 24 years and Earl said the slumping economy really put things into perspective for her.

“There were several enlightening moments in the past month,” Earl said. “When Microsoft said that they were going to lay off people, I knew the time was right.”

Earl said with large corporations like Starbucks, Circuit City and Home Depot laying off thousands of employees, she realized her small wine shop needed a change in order to stay afloat.

“I’m just a little fish in the big ol’ pond and if these guys are all looking for ways to cut costs and get slimmer and trimmer, it seemed like a good idea,” Earl said.

She’s also noticed a decrease in customers at Grape Expectations wine shop.

“When people aren’t fighting for parking spots back there (behind Grape Expectations), you know things have changed,” she said.

Earl said she e-mailed her regular customers and friends Jan. 28 to tell them she will close the Grape Expectations storefront in the near future. Many customers seemed shocked, but Earl said she anticipates they will remain loyal and buy their wines off the Web site.

“I’m not sad, but I’m excited,” she said. “When I think about the number of businesses that have come and gone in 24 years ... it’s just always going to evolve for small businesses.”

Earl said she still plans to host monthly wine tastings and get-togethers at various locations in the area.

It may take her a while to get used to running the Web site, but she’ll manage, she said

“It’ll be like a new job. It’ll be just like starting a new job,” she said. “After you do the same thing for 24 years, it’s going to feel like I’m starting something completely new.”

Earl said she doesn’t anticipate her customers having any problems adjusting to ordering wine on the Internet and may even gain a new online following.

“When I first started this business, people hardly ever used credit cards,” she said. “Now you 24-year-olds don’t know what cash or a check is. It’s just a different era.”

Earl isn’t going to start selling wines on the Web site until the storefront is closed. She said Grape Expectations in Old Town Silverdale may be closed in the very near future, but she cannot give a specific date.

“If I can wave my magic wand ... I don’t know, I can’t answer that question,” she said.

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