They say Nature abhors a vacuum, especially in the retail realm, and so it is for two thriving Sisters businesses, Melvin’s Fir Street Market and Cork Cellars.
The successful hometown wine bar, Cork Cellars, previously stationed inside Melvin’s Fir Street Market, has set down new roots in the building previously occupied (briefly) by the Lori Salisbury Gallery. Owned and run by Rick and Nadine Murray, Cork Cellars sold to Jennifer Knowles-Seher and David Seher, who envisioned a more expansive enterprise and the cozy corner cottage on Cascade Avenue fit the bill.
Cork Cellars’ relocation afforded an opportunity for Melvin and Sandee Herburger of Melvin’s Fir Street Market to stretch their old-fashioned grocery store’s legs and fill in the emptied space.
“I had my side of the store and they had their side and as time went by it became apparent I was outgrowing my side of the building and they felt the same way about theirs,” Melvin said, sporting one of his signature Hawaiian shirts. “They were lucky enough to sell and that created a nice space inside my store which I urgently needed for additional specialty items requested by my customers.”
So urgent was the need for added room, that Herburger resorted to turning merchandise sideways to pack it all in. The increased space gives him another 800 square feet to rearrange bulk food bins and realign the wine racks and bigger beer cooler.
“We have a great sun-lit eating area with five tables right up next to the window to enjoy our kitchen creations. People love our homemade soups and sandwiches, smoothies and gourmet salads.”
Melvin’s now carries close to 30 varieties of beer and has doubled their entire frozen food section. The store’s natural flow helps.
“Now it’s more user friendly and we’re able to display products so much better,” he said. “It created a nice open environment. It was almost seamless the way it came together so fast. Thing are really going well for us. It always amazes me that for such a small town, I still see new faces every day. We try to treat everyone like family here at Melvin’s.”
Over at the new Cork Cellars, Jennifer is settling in and putting the finishing touches on their chic wine bar and bottle shop, officially opening as of last week. It’s a perfect spot to sip some Sinister Hand red or taste a Chateau Montelena chardonnay while gazing out at the stunning Three Sisters Peaks.
“I’d thought about buying Cork Cellars a year ago and my husband immediately shot me down,” she said. “Then in September I lost my RN job at High Lakes Heathcare here in Sisters. It forced me to rethink whether I wanted to go back into nursing or do something different. I’d always wanted to own my own business and it came back around. This time, I rethought it and Cork Cellars was still up for sale. I didn’t know a lot about wine but wasn’t afraid to jump right into the learning curve.”
Jennifer and David were able to talk to the Murrays directly and quickly negotiated a deal.
“Rick cares about his customers and didn’t want to sell his business to just anyone off the street,” said David. “He wants to see this business succeed and had developed relationships in the community for seventeen years and that was important to us too. Rick wanted someone who really cared. Someone the town could identify with. These are our friends and neighbors and we want to treat them as if they were walking into our own home.”
Cork Cellars carries wines primarily from the Northwest but also has selections from all over the world. Jennifer’s philosophy is to stock unique things you’re not going to find on any grocery shelf.
“Some of the things that sold me on this space were first, the original pine walls and oak floors and second, the pristine views of the mountains. That aspect is unique to this area. The other buildings don’t have the amazing vistas we have here.”
Operational hours will be six days a week and closed Mondays. They’re open to minors until 9pm with non-alcoholic options as well as a small bites and light fare appetizer menu. In addition to fine champagnes and dessert wines like Muscat and Port, Cork Cellars has a temperature-controlled reserve cellar that contains rare and hard-to-find vintage selections.
“We’ll be open late every night, until ten and weekends until eleven,” Jennifer said. “And we have free wi-fi. One of the things I wish to keep is an extensive Oregon Pinot Noir inventory. I’m interested in doing pairing events, tastings, educational Wine 101 affairs and some Art By The Glass evenings where a customer can come in, sample wine and go home with a custom made art piece. This is an amazing chapter in my life and I’m happy to share it with the community. It’s a familiar place in a new space.”
Cork Cellars 391 West Cascade Ave.
Melvin’s Fir Street Market160 South Fir Street
541-549-2675 / 541-549-0711