The Story Exchange, Anne Dowling, Ridge Street WineYour Name: Anne Dowling

Business Name: Ridge Street Wine/ Breckenridge Cheese & Chocolate, a specialty wine, cheese, and chocolate store

Type of Business: Food & Beverage

Business Location: Breckenridge, Colorado, United States

Twitter   @sagrantinogirl

Reason for starting
I had been a wine sales rep for a few years…and decided to take a break. I traveled to France to ski and learn the language. I fell in love with the town of Chamonix. There was a small, one room wine shop on one of the side streets. I was struck by the simplicity of the message…Great Wines! There was no liquor or beer in the shop. I immediately thought..” Breckenridge & Summit County could use a place like this!” I went back to Colorado and opened my own small wine shop 6 months later.

How do you define success?
Success is having a loyal and returning clientele. It is loving what you do and having customers who support you and find quality in your mission. It is also having enough cashflow to make it through the off season…and money to put away for the future.

Biggest Success
Our biggest success has been our continued growth. I started just as a retail wine shop…then we added cheeses and chocolates and a few years later added 22 seats for wines by the glass and cheese plates. Revenue is up dramatically.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
When the shop started we were not on Main Street, but because of that we had a local clientele. Locals tend not to shop on Main Street to avoid the seasonal chaos. But, with the seasonal business of a resort town, you have to rely on the locals…especially during the off season. They are your bread & butter…and really the reason I started the shop. When we moved down to Main Street we had to remind locals that we had easy parking, that we still had our value rack ($10 under bottles for everyday drinking) and that we have a unique, hand chosen, but also affordable selection. We had to also remind them that the winebar part of the shop is also an affordable way to get out on the town…without going out for a full dinner. You can come in for a glass or 1/2 glass and a cheese plate…and socialize without breaking the bank. Locals have returned!

Who is your most important role model?
I opened the wine shop when I was 30…really on a whim. I founded my shop because of desire to have my own place and showcase my favorite wines and share my knowledge and selection with the community. Now, I am inspired by other successful women business owners…mostly in the food and wine industry. Their creative ideas, their passion and followthrough to realizing their dreams keeps me motivated.