You can pick up a taste of local history along with your holidays bottles at Schaefer’s Wine, Food and Spirits in Skokie.
After all, only a few wine and liquor stores in this country have been in business as long as Schaefer’s. On January 1, the store will celebrate their 75th anniversary.
Here are 5 reasons that explain how they’ve managed to stay in business for so long, and why they’ll probably still be on Grosspoint Road in another 75 years.
1. They’re a family business.
George J. Schaefer, Sr. first opened the store under the name “The Boundary Tavern” in 1936. Since then, it has passed through three generations of Schaefers. Although owners George Schaefer, Jr., and his sister, Gene, sold the store to customer Bill Graham in 2008, the family still has an active hand in the business—George Jr.’s daughter, Anje Schaefer Cluxton, is the Executive Vice President.
“Bill reminds me of my dad,” Anje says. “He has great new ideas.”
2. They give back to the community.
A reporter once jokingly called the former owners of Schaefer’s “easy touches” when it came to donating money, space and supplies to charities. With Graham at the helm, the store still remains committed to giving back. Schaefer’s donates dozens of gift baskets and thousands of dollars of wine to charities every year. They also regularly hire disabled adults to box gifts and wine club shipments, or to serve wine at events.
“We give back to the causes that are important to our customers,” Anje says. “We support a hundred charities a year, from Misericordia to a small local choir.”
3. They’re a one stop shop for booze and food.
At Schaefer’s, you’ll never drink on an empty stomach. The 12,000 square foot store includes a deli that offers cheeses, sliced meats, pates and other things that make you go “mmmm” …. The facility also features a wine bar. “After work, it’s a great place to have a flight of wine,” Anje says.
4. They entertain customers with stories from the past.
Reluctant to crack open a history book? You can learn a lot about local history just by talking with the staff at Schaefer’s. For instance, in the 1940s, Schaefer’s was the only business on the North Shore that sold booze. In the 1950s, before the advent of credit cards, Schaefer’s offered “house accounts” to regular customers. Half a dozen staff members have worked at Schaefer’s for more than 20 years, and are well versed in local folklore.
5. They know how to throw a party.
Whether it’s free weekly wine tastings, or more elaborate wine dinners, the staff at Schaefer’s never hesitates to uncork a wine bottle. On December 29, for a mere $25 (proceeds go to the Fire Department), you can sample bubbly from around the world at their annual Champagnefest. Don’t worry if it’s too cold to leave home that day. At the start of summer, they hold an all-day barbeque in their parking lot that features food and music.
There’s never a bad time to visit Schaefer’s. But on February 25 and 26, they’ll be holding a two-day warehouse sale. Up to 75 wines will marked down to 40% off their regular prices, so mark your calendars. Cheers.