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New Beer & Wine Store Opens In Norwich

Nov 22, 2023 12:06PM ● By Elise Renaud
When the owner of Norwich Wines and Spirits announced in June that he was closing his doors and retiring after 26 years, Cole Flannery saw the need to keep the local spot. “I took over the lease on September 1, and we opened November 1,” says Cole, owner of Half Step Beer & Wine. “Between September 1 and November 1, I was doing a lot of renovation, flooring, coolers, painting, and getting new racks and stuff in here.”

Since the store’s opening, Cole says he’s received a lot of positive feedback and suggestions on what to keep in stock, especially now that the store doesn’t carry liquor. “I dropped the liquor. There’s no more liquor here. That might change, but the way it works in Vermont is you’re limited to an 8 percent commission on sales, so if you sell $1,000 in liquor you get $80,” he says.

Currently, the store carries many of the same wines that were previously carried at Norwich Wines and Spirits. “The beer selection is what has increased like twentyfold. We’ve got a five-door cooler, and I’ve got hundreds of beers,” he says.

While he gets his inventory selection figured out, Cole is taking suggestions from the community. “I definitely have some staples that aren’t going anywhere, but to rotate some stuff in has been fun,” he says. “I’ve tasted everything that we have with my sales reps and distributors. I’m not going to stock something that I haven’t tasted and enjoyed; the exception would be if there’s a large number in the community that like this one type of wine. Maybe I don't like it, but obviously, I’m going to keep it in stock because there are people around here that like it.”

Half Step Beer & Wine is open Tuesday through Friday from 12 to 6 pm. For holiday weeks, he plans on increasing the number of days and hours that the store is open.

Read more about Cole and his shop here.

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