BED-STUY — Vin de Table sits on Throop Avenue, right in the heart of Bed-Stuy. The shop, which recently started selling liquor in addition to wine, has been open for six years, and sells a variety of bottles both natural and non. Owner Freddy Saint-Aignan, who speaks in a thick and rambling French accent, has been in the business for many years.
He owned a restaurant in Red Hook, The Sugar Lounge, which he says closed after struggling to weather the great recession in 2008. His current shop has handled things much better.
“We’re lucky that we were considered essential. We adjusted pretty well to the situation. The staff was amazing. They had the choice to stay home and they didn’t want to. We’re a small business so I don’t have full-time employees, I’m not at the store all the time, it’s all part-time, but it was good to have a great team have my back,” Saint-Aignan said.
The shop has made numerous changes, including only allowing three people inside at a time, delivering for free within the neighborhood, and canceling their popular Friday free tastings, employee Roswitha Graser says. The biggest change, however, was the patient attitude of the patrons, Saint-Aignan said.
“I’m from Europe and in the ’80s when I was watching TV I was looking and seeing the line in Russia for essentials. As a Western country, you think, ‘wow I don’t want to live like that.’ Then you realize years later you end up having, not exactly the same situation, but people have to deal with the same types of things, being in line,“ he said. “I’m almost 50, I’ve never seen that, I’ve never lived that, so I think that people are used to having what they want in a fast time. I never imagined that people will just have patience and be very easy about it.”
To Saint-Aignan, New York City did a good job managing the pandemic. He didn’t apply for any loans and doesn’t feel that he will necessarily need any more support. Liquor sales have notoriously gone up during the pandemic, with the Miami Herald reporting a 27% increase across the country.
“The business was open, I could still pay my employees, my vendors. I’m not gonna take money if I don’t need it,” he said.
Despite the success of the business during the pandemic, Saint-Aignan still isn’t entirely optimistic about the future.
“It’s really unknown, as everything is based on the economy. Right now we’re working day by day. I’m prepared for the worst. I don’t think it’s going to be very pretty in the fall, I don’t think the winter is going to be nice, and as long as the virus is still operating around us, and they don’t find a cure, it’s going to be hard,” he said, adding that the unemployment rate among industry workers impacts him as well.
“A lot of people that are unemployed are people that like wine,” he said.
Orders for local delivery can be placed online. Vin de Table is open from 12:00pm-9:00 pm every day, and is located at 354 Throop Avenue, between Kosciuszko Street and Dekalb Avenue.