After nearly two decades of being customers, one couple decided to take over their favourite wine store when the owners retired.
Bill Koopmans and his wife, Heather Hannah, purchased Steveston Winemakers just over a year and a half ago, after having been customers of the DIY-wine shop since they moved to Steveston in 2001.
And while both are getting ready to retire from their day jobs — Koopmans’ background is in IT, while his wife is a chartered professional accountant — they’re just getting started on their new venture.
The two were inspired to purchase the business, said Koopmans, as a way to give back to, and engage more with, their community.
“A great thing to do is get involved in the community through the shop and get to know some more of our neighbours. So that was really the thought behind it,” said Koopmans, adding that they had gotten to know the previous owners quite well over the past 20 years, and that the winemakers’ staff and customers are close-knit.
“It’s a family, it’s a bunch of friends. We’re very close,” said Koopmans.
Most of the staff, apart from one who retired, has stayed on after the company’s ownership changed hands. And the staff know each customer’s name and wine preferences, said Koopmans — something that Koopmans and his wife Heather are working hard at.
Koopmans has brought his experience in IT to the winery, creating a program to help automate the weekly process of ordering the store’s wine kits, which used to be done manually.
“It makes things easier so that I can start focusing more on the customer side of things: getting to know people and getting to know the wines better,” said Koopmans, explaining that while he and his wife have made countless wines at the store over the years, they now get to experience new wines as they learn their customers’ preferences.
Next on the list, said Koopmans, is focusing more on the store’s marketing, working with people who are looking to make wine for weddings or special occasions, and building Steveston Winemakers’ social media presence.