Neighbor Mark Schwartz recently opened up a wine shop, called Little Mo Wine, over on Nostrand Avenue in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, after learning all there was to know about wine while working in T. B. Ackerson WIne Merchants, formerly located on Cortelyou Road.
If you don’t want to trek over to Nostrand Avenue to see his selection, now you don’t have to. Mark has started delivering his great wine selection to Ditmas Park and Kensington. We caught up with him between deliveries to learn a little bit more about the wine business.
DPC: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Mark Schwartz: I’m a father of two living in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. For almost 20 years, I was a writer for various magazines, mostly about music but sometimes food and other cultural pursuits. I managed content on the website for Barnes & Noble for a good long time. I’ve lived in Brooklyn since 1994, and love being part of our community and sharing with neighbors from all over the world.
Tell us about Little Mo Wine, and how did you get into it?
In e-commerce, the more I saw the internet upend first the music industry, then DVDs, then book publishing, the more I really wanted to get into physical retail. I hated working in isolation in a cube and wanted to physically interact with customers in a store. For every reason you can imagine, the idea of a wine shop became rooted in my head. My wife and I were enthusiastic wine students and home winemakers at the time. We lived in Crown Heights and saw two shops open while I continued to think about it. When we moved to Lefferts, I saw another community that was completely underserved not just for quality wine and spirits, but simply for a pleasant place to buy wine. Giving our neighborhood a clean, safe, inviting place to gather around a love for wine felt like a higher calling to me, and when I finally made the exit from e-commerce, I began working on Little Mo Wine the next day. The name suggests a little mo’ variety, quality, and service. It’s also my daughter’s nickname.
Specific to the Ditmas community, I worked at T.B. Ackerson Wine Merchants on Cortelyou Road from the summer of 2014 until they shop closed this year, and loved meeting all the locals. Little Mo Wine delivers to the area (free! no minimum!) and you can see on our website that we even stock a few of the old favorites from Ackerson.
What’s a typical day at the shop like?
Running a shop is a lot like running your home: you clean it, constantly, stock it with things, and welcome guests who mess it up! Deliveries are a big part of retail, so there’s good physical labor involved in moving around cases of wine. We open at noon, and on most days salespeople will come calling and force me to try delicious new wines and spirits. If this is the worst part of the day, it ain’t that bad! Evenings see the delivery business pick up, which can be a lot like being a taxi dispatcher. And in between it all, I get to talk to people about a subject that fascinates me to no end.
What is the area’s best kept secret?
When you live here, you know: Lefferts is a great neighborhood of families who have been here for generations, each with stories to tell. My neighbors have been on my block 40 or even 50 years. We have a low-key artist community that keeps things interesting and a great online community as well. Nostrand Avenue is percolating with new business like mine, also I.M. Pastry, Desserts by Michael Allen, and Starliner Cafe & Market. You can now buy fresh bread, great coffee, fine chocolates, local produce, cheese and wine in just a few blocks.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
Sometimes you just have to do it yourself. Nowadays we say, “make the change you want to see,” and I think that’s maybe the best way to survive in a city like New York. Changing just one small corner of it is truly satisfying, if it’s your building, your block, your business, or your kids’ school.
Little Mo Wine is located at 1125 Nostrand Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens and is open daily from 12pm-9pm. Little Mo Wine also delivers, call 718-363-2101 to schedule.