Bristol wine store plans to close following drop in business

BRISTOL, Va. - 'Believe in Bristol' is the slogan of downtown Bristol, but a local business no longer believes it's getting the support needed to stay open.

Inari Wines will soon close its doors. They have been in business for the last 11 years, but the owners tell News 5 this year sales have dropped 12 percent over 2013.

Retirees Paul and Aulikki Brandt's post-retirement dream came true in 2003 when they opened Inari Wines in downtown Bristol, Virginia. "We weren't in it for the money. We weren't even replacing one of our salaries," said Paul and Aulikki Brandt, Inari Wines' owners.

The Brandts tell us they truly believed in Bristol and in their dream to sell top-of-the-line wines to customers like Kelly Goulds. "I come here every couple of weeks. They have the great wine tasting and beer tasting. They have a really great selection of things you cannot find at the big stores," she said.

But Monday, the Brandts announced they would no longer be the place for wine in Bristol, citing increased competition from big grocery store chains like Food City.

They also fear the Falls and Pinnacle retail developments will drive their customer base farther away from their Piedmont Avenue store. "The area has decided that they have wanted to focus on the big box chain stores off of Interstate 81. You have to assume that there is going to be a large wine store or Costco that will go into that," said Paul Brandt.

Ben Collins heads the economic restructuring committee for Believe in Bristol. He tells us the ripple effects of Inari Wines closing will extend far beyond downtown. "It's going to be little more challenging to recruit entrepreneurs, a little more challenging to convenience people to move here and stay here. A little more challenging big city types. And that's just part of the puzzle for how we grow and compete on the global stage," he said.

And for the Brandts, it's a dream that will soon come to an end. "That was the plan, we would do this until we retire," said Paul Brandt.

The Brandts tell us they spent thousands of dollars on advertising and even added beer and wine tasting, but the response wasn't enough to keep their doors open. They plan to close on June 21, but they wouldn't rule out opening another store in the future.

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