While isolated at home during the COVID-19 crisis, many of us have been drinking a lot more than usual. If in denial, the numbers might sober you up: For the week of April 25, weekly in-store alcohol sales across the country were up 26 percent, while online ones were up a staggering 477 percent, per Nielsen. That all works out to big business for Saratoga Springs’ wine, liquor and convenience stores during a time that’s been particularly difficult for pretty much every other type of small business. saratoga living reached out to Brandan Greczkowski, co-owner of Purdy’s Discount Wine & Liquor in the Congress Street Plaza—a.k.a. Saratoga’s oldest wine/liquor store—to find out exactly how well the libations have been flowing during quarantine.
Opening Up • 8:45am
The day starts fairly early for Greczkowski, opening the business, setting up registers and walking through the building to check that everything’s in order. “I have 1,000 cases of product coming in today,” he says. “All those cases will have to be received and put away in a timely manner.”
Receiving • 9am
The first delivery truck of the day is already outside before the store’s even open. From 9am to about 3pm, Purdy’s receives deliveries of wine, spirits and other beverage products. “Business has been absolutely crazy since the shutdown,” says Greczkowski, who installed sneeze/cough guards for all of the cashiers plus antibacterial dispensers throughout the store.
Taking Care of Business • 9:15am
Greczkowski is rarely not on his feet, pitching in on a multitude of jobs throughout the morning, from offloading incoming shipments and checking out customers on the front end to assisting those with carry-out orders. “Curbside is where we do most of our business: between 250 and 300 curbside sales weekly,” he says. The Greenfield native says that deliveries (all within 20 minutes of Saratoga) have been up as well, between 75-100 every week.
Sales • 2:22pm
All the product deliveries for the day have been received, and Greczkowski begins updating inventory and putting the invoices into the store’s computer system. After this, he will start buying more orders of spirits and wines from salesmen for the store’s next delivery, which starts at 9am the next morning. Greczkowski jokes, “It never stops.”
Lunchtime • 3:07pm
Greczkowski orders lunch—steak and shrimp from Kinjo Japanese—and works on adding more of tomorrow’s shipping orders while he eats.
Bookkeeping • 3:18pm
Greczkowski’s wife, Kristen, stops by the store. Kristen is the other co-owner of Purdy’s—her grandfather, George Purdy, founded the Saratoga-based business in 1960—and she does all of the store’s bookkeeping. Her mother, Gail Purdy Brophy, left college in the fall of 1963 to take over Purdy’s after George fell ill. She ended up running the store for 57 years before passing away in February.
Prepping To-Go Orders • 3:35pm
After lunch, Greczkowski and the shop’s wine specialist, John Ryan, prepare the local deliveries. There are nine in all today, loaded into the back of Greczkowski’s vehicle.
Delivering the Goods • 4:20pm
Greczkowski is so busy making signs for the new products that came in today—and, yes, still placing more orders from salesmen—that he hands over the delivery responsibilities to Ryan.
Heading to the Bank • 5:27pm
By now, Greczkowski has finished most of his responsibilities for the day. Kristen checks on how much change the cash registers will need for the next day, and then Greczkowski zips over to the bank to make change and hand over deposits. “We are a team,” Greczkowski says about his partnership with Kristen. “We run the store together, and we’ve been married for 16 years.”
Quitting Time • 6:10pm
Though Purdy’s will stay open until 9pm tonight, Greczkowski is calling it quits for the day. He’s already put in nine-and-a-half hours. Also, it’s Kristen’s birthday. “I’ve got to get home kind of early,” Greczkowski says with a smile. Indeed, it’s never a good idea to upset your business partner and wife, especially when they’re the same person.
BEST THING WE SAW: It was refreshing to see a small business in Saratoga doing so well, even if the bandanas and masks on its employees’ faces reminded us of the new, not-so-incredible normal.
WORST THING WE SAW: A man not having time to eat lunch until 3:07pm!
THE BOTTOM LINE: Purdy’s might be enjoying a booming business, but its staff is working hard for it. You could feel a real sense of duty and wanting to do right by the public that suddenly has this need. For Brandan and Kristen Greczkowski to keep a six-decade-old, family-owned store afloat through good times and bad—and now during a global pandemic—well, that speaks for itself.