The Sinks family keeps mixing it up for their customers.
Bluegrass Beverages is a long-standing Hendersonville fixture. Even the stones on its facade are steeped in history, preserved from a rock wall built during the civil war that was found when Bill Sinks, Sr. purchased the property over 40 years ago.
Like those stones, Bluegrass Beverages has stood the test of time, growing and evolving through three generations of the Sinks family. Says current owner, Bill Sinks, Jr., “We’re in the business of helping people relax and enjoy life with the products we serve.”
It’s a foundation built on three simple tenets, having the best selection, best price and best service around.
Bluegrass Over the Years
In the early 1970s Bill Sinks’ work required him to travel frequently. An entrepreneur at heart, he sought to change that by going into business for himself. Being from Chicago, had often dreamed of owning a bar.
In 1973 he was awarded one of three available licenses and Bluegrass Liquors was born. The new store occupied the same building as the family’s convenience store, separated by a wall, per state law. During those early years Bill Sinks, Jr., worked part-time while attending college.
After graduating, Sinks, Jr. came home and went in to the family business. He left temporarily to pursue a career in financial services but it wasn’t long before he returned, lured by his love for the business and customers.
“I took my management, marketing and merchandising knowledge from college and put it to good use as I ran both our convenience store and the liquor store,” says Sinks, Jr.
In 1994 Sinks, Jr. bought the business from his dad and changed the name of the liquor store to Bluegrass Beverages Wine, Spirits and Beer to better reflect the store experience. By 2000 Sinks, Jr. expanded the store by about 40 percent to accommodate an extensive wine and spirits selection.
Two years ago when the state’s alcoholic beverage laws were amended to allow the sale of liquor, wine and beer in one location, Sinks, Jr. decided to remove the wall, close the convenience store and focus exclusively on Bluegrass Beverages. The current store offers an upscale shopping experience with 10,000 square feet of wine, spirits and beer. You’ll also find 24 beer and wine taps with growler service, one of the largest beer coolers in the country, a cigar humidor, a tasting bar, Boar’s Head meats, cheeses and other specialty items, along with party supplies and gifts.
Evolution of the Wine, Spirits and Beer Industry
Sinks, Jr. says one of the biggest changes change in the last 20 years has been the introduction of a huge new selection of products, flavors and styles sparked by a newfound love of spirits from millennials. “People are rediscovering how wonderful cocktails are when entertaining friends,” says Sinks, Jr.
Another is the craft beer phenomenon, which includes nearly 20 local breweries. Today, his son, Ryan, manages the beer side of the business.
When asked about wine now being sold in grocery stores Sinks, Jr. says, “Consumers wanted that convenience, but grocery stores won’t have the price, selection or the staff that we do.” Bluegrass Beverages can offer customers a case of wine for their entertaining needs whereas a grocery store may be limited to what’s on the shelf.
Keeping Customers Happy
Sinks, Jr. believes it all starts with quality employees. “I have hired fabulous people and I stress good service,” he says. “Our customers … we treat them with respect and pass on our knowledge of the products we sell.”
His staff learns about their products through weekly tastings. Product knowledge is something Sinks, Jr. himself takes to heart, “Every wine on our lay-down racks, I have tasted.”
Sinks, Jr. also says he can keep prices low thanks to a 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse beneath the store that enables him to buy in quantity.
Going forward Sinks, Jr. plans to continue evolving with the industry, supporting the community and growing with the needs of his customers “We have a wonderful following; our customers are good people,” he says. “The community has been very good to me and I believe in giving back to keep making Hendersonville and Sumner County an even better place.”