COVID-19 local business spotlight: Princeton Corkscrew Wine Shop

When word got out that the coronavirus was spreading, the Princeton Corkscrew Wine Shop was among the first businesses in town to close to the public and begin using alternative methods for sales.

Already an expert at shipping wines to 42 states, owner Laurent Chapius and his staff members developed a plan for phone and online orders that could be picked up curbside or delivered to homes in town.

“We don’t touch credit cards, cash or checks,” Chapius said, “everything is done online or over the phone.”

For those who want advice on choosing a wine, the staff will also help them over the phone.

Princeton Corkscrew has more than 1,000 varieties of wine, most of them in the $10-$20 range, Chapius said, with some priced as low as $7.

Despite dealing with the constraints of keeping the store closed and everything sanitized, Chapius considers himself to be fortunate. His business has been deemed “essential” during the pandemic, but he is worried about other businesses in town that have seen traffic drop dramatically.

“We have at least 20 businesses open in town,” he said, and he fears for their futures and other businesses in Princeton.

Chapius has weathered other crises during the 24 years Princeton Corkscrew has been in business, including 9/11 and the Great Recession. “But nothing has been like this,” he said.

He is hopeful that business in town will pick up with the approach of Passover and Easter, both known as holidays where food is a large part of the celebration. Even though those celebrations won’t include traditional large family gatherings, he foresees virtual gatherings thanks to online apps. People can enjoy his wines as well as cheeses from his neighboring shop, Olsson’s Fine Foods, which is offering curbside pickup from noon to 6 p.m.

Chapius said he opened the Princeton Corkscrew because of his passion for wine. “We want people to have a great glass of wine when they sit down to eat dinner,” he said.

He has not been forced to furlough any of his employees, all of whom are full-time.

Business hours at Princeton Corkscrew have been modified during the pandemic. Curbside pickup is available from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. The shop is located on Palmer Square at 49 Hulfish Street. For information on ordering wine see princetoncorkscrew.com. The shop also can be contacted at wines@princetoncorkscrew.com or 609-430-1200.