Owners of Greensboro’s WineStyles share advice and cautions for buying a business


Zachary Weaver
     Staff Writer

Entrepreneurship, a daunting prospect, is made less so in a speaker series at local working space, Greensboro HQ.

Greensboro HQ, located on West Lewis Street in downtown Greensboro, is “aimed at the changing work preferences of the next-generation entrepreneur,” according to staff member Justin Struelli.

The space inside, wide and welcoming with its almost lodge-like woodwork, is conducive to productivity. Here people can rent cubicles or office space for just themselves or for groups.

There’s also the option of finding a spot in the common area with a cup of coffee. The entrepreneur series, now in its fifth year, aims to help hopeful future-business-owners in its monthly installments.

Speakers range from locals to nationals, with the occasional international entrepreneur.

The talk on Wednesday, Jan. 20 featured Tiffany Reynolds, owner of the sole WineStyles franchise in North Carolina and winner of the Small-Business Retail Award, accompanied by her husband Michael Reynolds.

They have owned the franchise for 19 months now but learned much through trial and error and offered their lessons to those in attendance.

Their goal is to de-mystify the wine-buying experience by educating customers and offering good-value wines. This is shown simply by display layout; rather than brand, they organize wines by flavor. The employees are knowledgeable about wines, and help customers find their ideal style.

All of this is aimed at making it not just a wine-bar or shop but an experience.

The NC WineStyles opened in 2009, under different ownership, passing through two owners with dwindling sales before landing with Reynolds.

She wanted to get out of the hotel business, finding it political and stressful. Buying WineStyles was serendipitous, as the couple were fans and happened to see it was for sale.

Both Tiffany and Michael had experience from working with Marriott, with Tiffany retiring to buy the WineStyles. Her 15-plus years of hotel experience proved useful in running the store and overcoming challenges, of which there were many.

Both described these as “the horrors of early business.” Unexpected impediments were one of the biggest challenges, the Reynoldses decided.

At one point, flatbread serving had been considered, only for a health inspector to shoot it down owing to inadequate space for a sink.

Expanding or moving was out as well, forbidden by their contract. This led to them returning to simplicity before getting ambitious again.

“Learn to be adaptable,” Michael said.

One does not start his or her own business without learning lessons along the way. Foremost was the value of being unique.

“Find your own niche”, Michael said.

There were already wine stores in Greensboro, so they strove to find qualities to stand out from the crowd.

The initial bumps were eased by two inheritances from the shop’s past: loyal customers and knowledgeable associates. The customers helped guide the Reynoldses in what they wanted in the shop, leading to a dependable base of buyers. The staff assists customers by knowing the wines well enough to help even if a buyer doesn’t know what to look for.

Michael advised to “run the business as though you’re going to sell it.”

A store-runner needs to aim at being profitable, not just scraping by. That means trying new things, like WineStyles’s morning coffee. The shop is open daylong but little is sold in the morning.

Even experiments like the ill-fated flatbread helped keep the shop experience fresh.

Networking and community activity help promote a growing business.

“Be willing to give,” Michael said.

WineStyles has, in the past, supplied wine tasting for charity and arts exhibitions, connecting with people from across the city. This led particularly to an architect customer drawing a new location pro bono.

Showing real interest is key, both noted.

Social media also provided a boost.

After a Yelp registry, WineStyles saw a 138 percent increase in Google viewership, helping increase their exposure.

Grassroots and creative marketing helped get word out about the existence of the shop.

Both had cautions for the enthusiastic entrepreneur.

Many enter the business on the love of wine alone but lack any experience in business running.

The Reynolds stressed that this is a recipe for failure, as business must come before fun.

Pure passion helps little with balancing a budget or managing employees. One must have the skills, acquired through training and experience before buying a business.

Despite initial adversity, the Reynoldses say that WineStyles is doing well. Their ownership is young, but the future appears bright.

“It’s been an awesome experience,” Tiffany said.

Her store-running led to her writing and teaching a wine-appreciation course at UNC-Greensboro. Michael still works at Marriott but helps out at the shop as well. They are still learning, but those early lessons served them well.

Greensboro HQ extends an open invitation to any interested individuals to attend its series. Admission is free but advanced registry is required.

The next speaker is Old Dominion Freight Line CEO David Congdon at 5 p.m. Feb. 17.

Categories: Greensboro, News, Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: