Best Service Winner: Steve Yaekel, Margaretville Liquor Store
By Jay Braman, Jr.
Lots of things have happened since 1960.
The times certainly changed as things like a presidential assassination occurred, a man walked on the moon, disco music was actually popular, the Soviet Union fell, something called a personal computer appeared and the list goes on.
But what hasn’t changed is the fact that the Margaretville Liquor Store is run by the Yaekel family.
Nineteen hundred and sixty was the year they took it over in a space that was once a part of the Margaretville Drugstore.
Steve Yaekel, the current owner, remembers it well.
It was a small liquor shop that his grandfather, a traveling shoe salesman, noticed for sale when coming through Margaretville on his route.
He told his son Charles “Chuck” Yaekel about the property because he thought there was opportunity there.
Chuck bought it and found out his dad was right.
After about a decade, it became clear that more room was needed so Chuck picked up the larger storefront on the other side of the Margaretville Drugstore.
And Margaretville Liquors has been there ever since.
Now it’s in the hands of Chuck’s son Steve, who said Tuesday that despite the poor economy, his business is moving along swimmingly.
One reason for his good fortune, he said, has been a sudden boost in the wedding industry, which is seeing the popularity of “Barn Weddings” grow.
Yaekel said that last year’s wedding season, which runs from spring right through the fall, kept him working seven days a week to keep up with the demand that comes with supplying such events.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate,” he said. “Even now, we’re a little ahead from last year.”
In the winter, of course, there are no barn weddings, so Yaekel relies on old-fashioned foot traffic, something he says is still going well despite all the talk about Main Street business woes in the villages and hamlets throughout the Catskills.
While customers came into his dad’s store back in the ’60s to buy hard liquor with names like Seagram’s Seven, Bacardi Rum, Crown Royal and Beefeater Gin, they come into to Steve’s for something else.
“Wine,” he said. “Wine is the big thing now. When my dad had the store it was all about hard liquor, but now 75 percent of my business is selling wine.”
Another element of Yaekel’s good fortune is that he does not have to worry about something that many a local retailer is confronting nowadays.
Chain stores are against the law in New York State when it comes to selling wine and liquor. “Yeah,” he says with a smile. “ You can only have one liquor license.”
So, as the years have gone by, they have treated the Margaretville Liquor store pretty nicely. So nice that Steve thinks he may upgrade and install one of those new fangled contraptions that became all the rage back in the 1980s. “I hope to computerize in the spring,” he said. “We’re still writing every sale out by hand.”
His three part-time employees all hope Steve gets it up and running by the time wedding season hits again.
But computer or not, some things at Margaretville Liquors will not change. “Margaretville Liquor Store offers an international selection of fine wines and spirits,” Steve says. “We pride ourselves on personalized service and will be happy to help you choose the perfect pairing for your upcoming dinner party or special event. If we don’t have something you want in stock, please let us know and we can order it for you.”