Seriously, I want to give you money

Needing to stock up on wines for a dinner party I’m putting on for Mrs. SME and some friends tonight, I thought I’d stop by Top Ten Wines when I was downtown yesterday. Now, Paul can be cantankerous to many (I prefer “endearingly abrasive“), but he’s the most knowledgeable wine retailer in town and has interesting wines and fair prices. I like to shop there.

It was still relatively early, so I checked the Top Ten Website for hours of operation. Website’s down. Blog’s still up, but oh, it’s two years hold and there are no hours posted. I did find a phone number, but nobody answered and no message (hours!) came on. Assuming they open at 11:00 am, I stop by at 11:07. Closed. The scooter’s there but still, closed.

So I went to Schnucks and spent my $250 there. So my wine list is kind of boring now and a local business lost out. Nobody’s happy (except for Schnucks).


Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

14 thoughts

  1. He opens at 11’ish. If the scooter is there he is likely down at Panera getting his morning coffee. I have also run into this problem with Top Ten. Still, he has the best selection in town and the knowledge to sell you something you will like. I’ll put up with a hell of a lot for that.

  2. OK, rant time.

    I could have written this post. Exactly this happened to me on one occasion when I tried to buy wine there and despite a sign claiming that they were open, they were closed. No “Back in 15 minutes!” sign was posted, either. That, combined with the chaotic interior, confusing pricing, and “cantankerous” attitude mean that I don’t shop there. That, for me, was the final straw.

    Some people find this kind of business attitude charming. I find it very, very annoying. I have better things to do than adjust my life in order to make it possible to buy things from a store. The store should be trying to make it easy for me to spend money there, not throw roadblocks in the path of a willing consumer.

    They have in the past worked with Columbia Second Chance and Perlow-Stevens for a yearly fundraising event for the former. I participated one year about bought over $200 worth of wine from them and paid for it in advance. They told me the wine would be available on a certain day. I showed up; the order wasn’t ready. No phone call, no email, nothing–I had to learn about this in person at the store, having left work early specifically to be there on time. They told me to come back several days later.

    I want to support them too, but there is a minimum level of business acumen I expect before I’ll give up my time and money. The fact that they are a local business isn’t enough for me to put up with such slackness. Hy-Vee and Schnucks are a close drive away, and they have free parking.

  3. I’m with “Michael in Missouri”…I would like to shop there since it is a local business and they seem to have a good selection (albeit one that is difficult to access, with cases of random wine laid out here and there). There’s an uncomfortable and unwelcoming vibe in Top Ten Wines. My wine money goes to Schnucks (which does have some good wines if you poke around) and Hoss’s Market & Rotisserie.

  4. Sorry, but expert does not excuse cranky and lackadaisical about things like hours and delivery of promised goods.

    Customer service is the absolute bedrock of any business, and especially a local-owned and local-run one. Especially with competition around. This kind of thing drives me crazy, and on the basis of these posts alone I would not buy wine at Top 10 Wines. Who wants to put up with that crap? Certainly not me.

  5. I’ll give Top 10 a plug here since it is getting slammed pretty hard. I go in and buy a case of wine every month or so (he gives 10% off for buying a case). I always ask Paul to help me pick out the wines and he always does a great job. I tell him what I like or am in the mood for and end up with 12 very enjoyable bottles of wine. There is no where else in town to get that level of service. Nowhere. How often do you decide to try a new bottle of wine from schnucks and end up hating it? Happens to me a lot. That is rarely the case when I have Paul help me pick wine at Top 10.

    If you don’t ask for help in Top 10 it is hard to pick things out, so ask. It is worth it. Paul is an odd duck, but he has always been very helpful when I have asked.

  6. Slightly off topic:

    We’re do the Missouri Wine Passport and have visited 33 wineries in 3 days (23 on Saturday and Sunday). Each has something to offer, whether it’s a beautiful building, eccentric character, or a marvelous wine.

    We have always liked Adam Puchta wines the best. The White Mule winery opened this year in Owensville and we said. “Wow, this is as good as Puchta’s.” Turns out they had hired one of Puchta’s vintners who had been there for 8 years.

    But so far, the best in the state is 1000 Oaks They are only 4 years old, but they have a breadth of selections and each one is great from nose to finish. Don’t be afraid to try any of their wines if you find them.

  7. Agree with most of the posters. I shop there, mostly at the tasting parties. Ten bucks and a couple bottles are worth it, and the selections are always interesting. He knows an awful lot about wine, even if I don’t always agree with his tastes.

    That said, Paul can be off-putting and he delivers his opinions with a conviction seldom seen outside a faculty meeting, the Tea Party or the Vatican. I know several knowledgeable wine drinkers who won’t darken his door for that reason.

    Could he do better if he were more diplomatic? Sure. Will he be? Probably not.

    Would I go to another store that had the same goods and more pleasant service? Possibly. Is there one in Columbia? Definitely not.

  8. I think he’s just going to do his thing, his way, and we get to decide whether or not to buy into it. Like you, Frank, I say the upside outweighs the down, but it can be a test of patience.

  9. Michael in Missouri had me until he threw the “free parking” dead horse in there. It’s only a few cents. Automobiles are not more important than people, bicycles, busses, etc. They do not require “free” parking. Parking entails costs, at least a portion of those should be passed to the automobile operator. /end rant.

  10. Does Frank like posing questions to himself? Absolutely. Is it annoying? Of course he is. Will he stop doing it? Definitely not.

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