Friday, August 8, 2014

A constant reminder

Each day when I walk into Harry's I am reminded of its legacy. More than 73 years have passed since Harry Pollack first opened the doors to a very small liquor shop here in Fairfield and our store today still stands on the very same plot of land that it did that day in October of 1941 when Harry and Betty first turned the key.

There have been changes over the years...

 The small house that once stood on the property which was retro fitted to be the space for the original store and was heated by a coal burning potbelly stove has long since been torn down and replaced by our current building. When Harry and Betty moved into the new building, it took up just one of its current 6 bays and the entire stock at that time fit in that one small space.

It did not yet have the reputation that it carries today but it did have a few very important things back then that remain guiding principals today. Way back then, Harry was involved as part of his community, his son Saul and now Grandson Scott and their faimilies, have all been a part of this Faifield/Southport Community. Harry knew the people that came through his doors, he greeted each of them and he knew about their families. Harry watched as many families celebrated important milestones like weddings and graduations with a bottle of Champagne and more simple gatherings like a families back yard party. They Grieved with those families when they lost loved ones and helped to welcome new members to their families.

Sadly, Harry and Betty have since passed and more recently, Saul has finally settled in to retirement and passed the baton to his son Scott along with long time employees William and Patrick (thats me). I sat many times with Saul and listened for many hours as he talked about his fathers work ethic and good fortune. He told me about his days as a teacher and coach and how when his dad died, he turned Liquor store owner. He told me about a neighbor that helped to guide him through buying the Harry's corner and expanding his store. I watched the same work ethic and concetration on customer service that his father passed to him.

Saul built a well regarded wine shop that has won numerous awards and been the inspiration for many other stores that have used his model to build their own reputations. He hired good people and put his faith in them. He guided and expanded abilities of the people that worked for him. Many former Harry's employees have "graduated" and some remain in the business in a different capacity. A few went on to own their own stores, another bought a wine/liquor distribution company, some are doing sales or other jobs in the chain of our industry. All former employees are seen as members of our family and our legacy. It is true that we have had a crazy uncle or two along the way but we are very proud of our staff past and present.

I sat with Saul yesterday. We revisited some of the conversations that we have had along the way. I was reminded again of his humble nature and his giving personality, the one passed down from his father and passed on to his children. I hope that our customers can see that some of it has also rubbed off on to William and myself also as well as our staff. Saul also talked about our town and the people in it and reminded me that "our little store" has a long history.

We see the pictures of  "The original store", "Harry", & "Betty" that are proudly displayed over the wine tasting table in the California room. "Harry the duck" floating in the wine chiller that far pre-date any of our current employees, the black and white photos that Saul and Annes daughter, Kira took of our town still hanging and reminding all of us of our history. All lending themselves to the pride we all take in our little store. The one that continues to serve its customers with gratitude for their patronage more than seven decades later.

Our thanks to our customers, to Harry and Betty along with the reast of the Pollack family and the town of Fairfield now celebrating 375 years, for the many great years. As for us, we continue to look for the next great wine, the next community milestone, family wedding, and if we get lucky, maybe another trip to the Little League World Series this year for our town.

What a great legacy to be part of...


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