Bag & String Wine Merchants
About: Owner and proprietor, Samuel Whitmore studied winemaking and winery management at the University of California, Davis and worked in several start-up and well-known wineries in Sonoma and Napa before venturing to Western New York with his wife, Metivia, a native of Westfield. He started his career wanting to make wine and living the wine country lifestyle dream, keeping company with B.R. Cohn Winery, Franciscan Estates, Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery, Arrowood Vineyards & Winery, Parducci and Paul Dolan Vineyards. When he realized his talents were stronger in appreciating and selling fine wine rather than in making it, he changed direction. After moving to Lakewood, and with the encouragement of his wife, Sam opened a small 900 square foot store called Bag and String Wine Merchants with the goal of providing great wine at all price points that was thoughtfully curated, knowledge for enquiring customers, and food pairing ideas. As Sam tells the story, “I went ahead with the idea that if we could offer a better product for the money, offer discounts for wine club members, create an aesthetically pleasing shopping environment, better customer service and trusted advice, we would succeed.” Nearly six years later, Bag and String has grown into a 3000-square foot space with a wine club that serves more than 700 members and an inventory that includes craft spirits.
Asked what he loves most about running the store, Sam points to fostering his employees and mentees, Matt and Leslie, and watching them succeed in something they love. He also appreciates the kindness and loyalty of his customers noting that “in a world of online shopping and big box retail, I think a lot of people miss that connection with small specialty merchants, they miss those connections with fellow humans. I believe that they enjoy supporting my business in part because it is obvious that I love what I do and that I love serving them. I know that I am lucky for that reason alone.”
Wine Club: Membership in one of the nine different Wine Clubs offers participants preferred pricing on special buys as well as a 15% discount off the retail price of all wine purchases. Other benefits include member only special offers and invitations to special events. You can cancel a membership at any time.