Store owner Steve Long sent an e-mail to his customer list last week announcing his intention to retire from the wine retail business and his hope to find a suitable buyer for the store, which he and his wife, Caroline, founded six years ago after he retired from his first career as a health economist.
“Out of Site Wines is for sale and is actively seeking a buyer, hopefully from among its current customers,” Long wrote. “I encourage each of you to think about whether you or someone you know might be interested in purchasing a successful fine wine business that has become a resource for Vienna and surrounding communities.”
Long had been quietly shopping the store among trade contacts since earlier this year. He turns 64 this summer, and he says it’s time to retire and move to California, where his son and grandchildren live in San Francisco.
“For me, owning and operating a fine wine shop provides the opportunity for constant exposure to wines, wine growing areas, grape varieties, wine styles and the structure of and trends in the wine industry throughout the world,” Long wrote to me this morning via e-mail. “The greatest rewards of the process are the dual outcomes of my personal growth in learning about all these things and in sharing my sensory and intellectual passion for wine with so many loyal customers of the shop over the years.”
Out of Site Wines is located a bit off the beaten track in Vienna (which helps explain the name). It’s a specialty store where Long has featured small-production wines from around the world, advertising “adventure for the palate.” He’s been a leader in the Washington-area market in featuring boutique wineries such as Donkey and Goat, a culty fave of the “natural” wine crowd. The small store includes a room in the back where Long has conducted tastings and classes with visiting winemakers — the space could also be used to expand the store’s retail shelves.
Long notes there are other ways to expand the business. Out of Site Wines has only been open three days a week, and Long confesses he never fully exploited the possibilities of Internet marketing. (The store’s Web site still boasts, “We’re Reopening Saturday, February 7, 2009!”)
The store is listed with Sunbelt Business Advisors of Bethesda for the sale. While he’s looking for a buyer, Long said he will continue to operate the store “at an all-out pace.”