There are just some things that deserve more than a day of celebration.
To business owners Ann and Chris Coppinger, Pettyjohns Liquor & Wine reaching its 50-year milestone in December is one of them. Each weekend through the end of the year, Pettyjohns, located in the Table Mesa Shopping Center at 613 S. Broadway, will toast the anniversary with a different activity to thank customers.
While numerous festivities kicked off in November, there is still plenty of celebrating on the agenda. Marking the store’s official opening date 50 years ago, Pettyjohns will hold a party at 4 p.m. Dec. 7. To celebrate, the business owners will pop some Champagne bottles and share cupcakes and party favors. Sweet Cow Ice Cream Truck will be parked outside the store to sell treats. To commemorate the next 50 years ahead, the Boulder Area Chamber of Commerce will perform a ribbon cutting. The store will celebrate in the weekends following with multiple taste-testing opportunities and activities.
Ann and Chris Coppinger both graduated from the University of Maryland, Ann with a degree in business and Chris with a degree in sociology. After earning their diplomas, the longtime friends, decided to head west, landing in Boulder, where they both got jobs working for Pettyjohns. After 20 years of employment, they decided to purchase the business in 1997 from the original owners Charles “Jon” William Pettyjohn and Marie Pettyjohn.
In their time as employees, Ann Coppinger said Jon and Marie Pettyjohn became like family to them. When Ann and Chris decided to elope at age 26, Jon and Marie Pettyjohn were their witnesses at the courthouse, even though Ann and Chris had given them only three hours’ notice. When the couple had children of their own, Jane and J.T., Jon and Marie Pettyjohn were like a pair of grandparents to them.
While the Pettyjohns passed away in the early 2000s, their business savvy and valuable tricks of the trade have lived on in the Coppingers and helped the store to weather tough times. To have Pettyjohns reach 50 years is a testament to loyal customers and all the Coppingers learned from the Pettyjohns, Ann Coppinger said.
“We are really proud,” Ann Coppinger said. “Jon taught us the industry and to look ahead. It was our customers that stayed loyal with us and we grew with them.”
Adapting to changes and finding new and innovative ways to reach customers were among the lessons learned.
“I think that one of the secrets of our success is that we keep trying to grow with the community,” Ann Coppinger said. “We are not just sitting there carrying the same old stuff.”
One example of this is a change that came Jan. 1, when grocery stores were permitted to start selling full-strength beer, eliminating a former Prohibition-era law that had allowed only 3.2% beer sales at supermarkets. With more people turning to the convenience of buying their beer and groceries together, Coppinger said Pettyjohns saw a nearly 25% drop in beer sales. To make up for the loss, Coppinger said the store began selling niche items like olive oil created from one of their wine producers and Peruvian chocolate. The store also amped up the focus on locally crafted suds.
“We carry all beers, but we specialize in true craft brews from Colorado that the grocery stores don’t carry,” Ann Coppinger said.
She also credits Jon Pettyjohns’ foresight in expanding the store’s wine selection during the business’ early years. She said wine has always made up the majority of sales. Another touch Ann Coppinger, who is a certified specialist of wine, believes has helped the store stand the test of time are displays stationed around the store that detail which wines complement various dishes from buttery Chardonnays to robust reds.
On Friday afternoon, Joel Leichnetz, of Boulder, searched the cooler for a German beer. Leichnetz said he lives near the store and has been shopping at Pettyjohns for the past eight years.
“I love the owners, the husband and wife,” Leichnetz said. “(I also like) the selection. I wanted a German beer and I came here to get it.”
Fellow customer Margie Wortzman, of Boulder, said she has been shopping at Pettyjohns for about 30 years. She said the store also is close to her home and while she doesn’t drink often, when she does choose to imbibe, the store always has the items she’s seeking.
“I think they’re wonderful,” Wortzman said. “It’s locally owned, so that is a big plus.”
Customers also can learn how to craft their own cocktails during monthly hour-long bartending tutorials taught by store employee Kas VanKoevering. From 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday, VanKoevering will teach the art of the cranberry gin fizz. On Dec. 28, she will show people how to concoct a classic Old Fashioned. Ann Coppinger said this is one of many examples where the store’s 12 employees have demonstrated passion for the store.
“What is really wonderful is that Chris and I are turning 65 and we have been doing this for 40 years,” she said. “The people working with us, lay in bed at night and also stay up thinking of how to improve the businesses”
If you go
Through the rest of the year, Ann Coppinger invited the community to join in upcoming celebrations at Pettyjohns Liquor & Wine, in the Table Mesa Shopping Center at 613 S. Broadway:
5 to 7 p.m. Friday — Shanao Chocolates taste testing with owner Michael Caines beside the store’s dessert wines4 to 5 p.m. Dec. 7 — Pettyjohns party5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 13 — Taste testing Jacquesson 741 Champagne.4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 14 — Crown Royal representatives will embroider customers’ Crown Royal bag with any message5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 20 — Taste testing featured Christmas wines5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 21 — Launch of Pettyjohns Breckenridge Special Reserve Anniversary Bourbon