#TBT: Wine of the Times at Putnam Market

Ever wondered why Putnam Market and its adjoining wine room are located on Broadway, not Putnam Street? Longtime Saratogians know the (sort of obvious) answer: The businesses got their start on Putnam Street.

In 1995, Putnam Market—then a full-size gourmet grocery store complete with a locally grown produce section, fish counter, butcher and florist—opened in a converted warehouse at the site of what’s now all-you-can-eat sushi hotspot Wasabi. When Putnam Market’s co-owner, Cathy Hamilton, married wine expert William Roach, an Englishman she’d met at the London Business School in the 1980s, it only made sense to add in a wine room.

“We fitted the Wine Room into the warehouse’s truck loading dock, and built a cage around it to comply with regulations of the New York State Liquor Authority, which require shoppers to pass through a shared lobby between stores selling groceries and stores selling alcohol,” says Roach of the small shop seen here in 1998. Working the shop in signature white Putnam Market T-shirts are Roach (standing) and the seated Ashley Edwards, then the executive director of the Children’s Museum at Saratoga. “Ashley was cycling past one day and decided he needed some weekend work,” Roach says. “And I needed some help.”

Shortly after the Wine Room opened, the owner of the building decided to add a floor of offices above the market. “With an unwelcome disruption and being tempted by Broadway, we moved the business to the Roohan Building,” Roach says. “The deli, Cheese Room, bakery and all the groceries made the move. The Wine Room moved, too.”

And, as they say, the rest is history. I asked Roach if he remembers any noteworthy stories from the early days of the Wine Room. “This is the wine business, and frankly, it’s a wonder I remember anything,” he says. “It was, and still is, the most tremendous fun.”

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