East Wake Wines and Craft Brew have closed their doors for good. After five years of serving the community wines and local beers, Ken and Karen Eshenbaugh are moving on to bigger prospects.
Yet they leave a gaping hole in the community. Not only for craft beer, their biggest draw, but also among the few small businesses in Knightdale.
Since the Zebulon residents opened up their shop, they could barely stay on top of the demand and variety of craft beer.
“Offering craft beer as well as wine was the key to our success,” Ken Eshenbaugh said.
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They decided to close instead of selling the business because it was the easiest and cleanest way to move on. Ken Eshenbaugh says he plans to stay in the area and in the industry.
He said that the community was very welcoming and that the store was profitable.
“Knightdale is very quietly attractive. It’s a varied demographic,” he said.
The shop became a local gathering place with glasses of beer and wine sold in the store. When the shop posted on Facebook about its inventory clearance sale, the store was packed, less than two hours after the post.
“That was what people were most bummed about,” Eshenbaugh said. “One less gathering place. The community was really tied into it.”
Around the same time that East Wake Wines closed on Nov. 30, a Little Caesar’s Pizza opened up across Knightdale Boulevard.
Eshenbaugh says his customers came from surrounding towns and cities, not just Knightdale. Some customers came as far as northwest Raleigh.
“We’re sitting in a really unique position, only nine miles from the Capitol building,” said Sherry Samuels of the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce. “We’re accessible.”
Mary Yount, executive director at the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce, says the number of businesses has stayed about the same for the past few years, although the town has begun to push for more local businesses.
“Shopping small isn’t just about retail, shopping small is a conscious decision because it impacts the community on a larger scale,” she said. “We want to make sure as a community we are supporting businesses that are here.”
People who own franchises, she points out, are also individuals who support the community, churches and schools.
Yount said that she has seen economic indicators of growth, such as questions about available properties, town demographics and traffic patterns.
“People are interested,” she said. She believes that growth in surrounding communities will lead to people moving toward Knightdale as well.
“Shop local,” she said. “When an item is available locally, ask if it can be price matched rather than the deal online. Because that (online) sales tax doesn’t go to that community.”