Kalamazoo couple launches online wine shop so you don't have to be stuck without a bottle

Editor's note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave's On the Ground Kalamazoo  series and our ongoing COVID-19 coverage. If you have a story of how the community is responding to the pandemic please let us know here.

The enterprising couple that owns The Stamped Robin wine and cocktail lounge in downtown Kalamazoo is sure that a bottle of wine, delivered to your door, would make spending more time at home – as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the CDC suggests – a little more enjoyable.

“Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t drink a really good bottle of wine,” says Emily Deering-Caruso, who opened The Stamped Robin two years ago in downtown Kalamazoo with husband Matt.

With that in mind, they have launched nextdoorwinestore.com, an online wine shop that allows consumers to shop for wine, pay for it, and have it delivered to their homes in the Greater Kalamazoo area on the same day. The e-commerce business was launched on March 18, about four business days after the governor passed crowd-limiting orders that required most Michigan restaurants and taverns to close in order to prevent the person-to-person spread of the coronavirus. Locations with take-out and drive-thru services have been allowed to continue those operations, though many have closed so employees could stay home.

“We’ve had people call and say, ‘Hey, do you remember that fancy port that we were drinking there a few months ago?’ ” Emily Deering-Caruso says. She says the idea behind the delivery/pickup service is to give people access to unique but affordable wines and artisan beers, including some of the favorites they’ve found at The Stamped Robin.

The lounge is named for a folk tale that has children use a thumb to stamp one of their hands to magically ensure that a robin will return in the spring. The business has provided a comfortable space for 50 people inside and about 30 outside to sample its changing menu of wines. It also keeps a selection of 20 wines “on tap” and serves mixed drinks and craft beers in cans. Although the in-house business has been closed, work has continued online since March 18.

“We’re still able to react from afar,” Emily says of the online effort. “People are still able to hold conversations and keep in touch with their favorite bartenders.” And she says, “You can still get really good quality wine or beer at home.”

Although she didn’t provide sales figures, she said the delivery/pickup business has been well received. And deliveries have a side benefit for her and her husband. “It’s really great to see your regulars when you arrive,” she said with a laugh. “Now we know where everyone lives.”

She says the e-service will continue as an extension of an actual retail shop she and Matt continue to hope to open this spring next door to The Stamped Robin, located at 124-128 Portage St. It will sell wine, artisan beers, vermouth, aperitif, and coffee. It will duplicate the 1,200 square feet of space the couple is now using and it will, of course, be called the Next Door Wine Store.

“We have created our own community and vibe at The Stamped Robin,” Emily Deering-Caruso said. “The Next Door Wine Store will really dive into our wine identity and get into the artisan part of our identity.”

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Read more articles by Al Jones.

Al Jones is a freelance writer who has worked for many years as a reporter, editor, and columnist. He is the Project Editor for On the Ground Kalamazoo.