Route 54’s Bayside Offers Unique Shopping Experience

OCEAN CITY – Bayside Wines & Spirits is getting settled in its new location as it rides along through the off-season with an eye on the coming summer season.

Bayside Wines & Spirits are located in the Bayside Shopping Center on Route 54 close to Fenwick Island next to the Harris Teeter grocery store.

It accompanies its sister store, Bayville Package Store, which is also on Route 54 closer to the beach and has been in business for over 30 years.

Bayside Wines and Spirits was formally known as West Fenwick Liquors in a different location but the new shopping center was hard to pass up and a decision was made to relocate the store.

“With Harris Teeter coming in and the new shopping center being built, we figured it was time to move and take a step up,” General Manager Michael Semper said. “It was just a second down the street and a brand new building … it was really a no brainer for us.”

Not only did the new Bayside location grow the store’s square footage tenfold but it also provides a much larger parking lot and relief to Bayville’s clientele traveling from the Route 113 area as well as Ocean Pines and Berlin.

“That road [Route54] is packed and it gives the people that usually go to Bayville another option,” Semper said. “It just makes it a lot easier.”

Bayside Wines & Spirits opened late last August due to construction and is looking forward to experiencing its first busy summer season at the new location.

“It is the off-season so it is what it is,” Semper said. “As far as looking forward to next year, we are looking to May to be our true grand opening because the neighborhood fills back up again.”

The locals have also enjoyed the convenience of visiting Bayside Wines & Spirits. Manager Jon Petrie said he has seen many familiar faces from the Bayville Package Store finding their way to the new store.

“We should see an upswing of business from the other store [Bayville] because I am sure in the summer time people go by and see the parking lot so full and they will decide to try another location,” he said. “So it should be good for both stores.”

Semper explained a benefit in having Bayside Wines & Spirits located in the new shopping center is it will draw in a customer who is looking for a one-stop shop.

“This is as close as I have seen down here to a village center where there is a cleaners, a Subway, a grocery store, that sort of thing all in one stop and there is a lot of people from Northern Virginia, D.C, Howard County, and Montgomery County that … love the fact that they don’t have to go anywhere,” he said. “They can walk up on a nice day, do what they need to do and walk back.”

Semper said that in preparing to open the key was to make sure “heavy hitter” items were available and their prices were the same as Bayville. Since opening, they have relied on their customers to let them know about stocking levels.

“It is all balancing act out right now,” he said. “It is kind of tough to get a proper read because it is the off-season.”

“It has been very organic that way,” Petrie added. “Getting all the staples that we want and then tailoring to the customers from there.”

The store is preparing for summer visitors’ demand by researching alcohol trends in larger surrounding markets.

“We have pride in keeping up with everything by seeing what is happening and keeping up with the clientele that comes in the summer time,” Semper said. “A local is going to tell you straight up what they want or what they don’t want … with everyone else, it is a crapshoot as far as we have to roll the dice and see what happens. You aren’t going to make everyone happy but if you can make nine out of 10 happy you have gone above and beyond.”

Bayside Wines and Spirits is unique in a few ways, perhaps most notably with its employees.

“Having staff enjoy their job resonates when they are talking with a customer,” Petrie said. “The customer can sense it and then they can provide better customer service.”

Following along the lines of customer service, the staff takes pride in becoming educated on what’s selling and in turn passes that knowledge onto the customer.

Semper used wine as an example. If a customer comes in wanting to taste a new wine, employees use “baby steps” in getting them to acquire a taste for the right wine instead of selling someone the most expensive bottle on the shelf.

“We don’t want to super trade you,” he said. “We want to find out what you like and take the steps to move up.”

Petrie added, “When we steer people in tasting wines, we want them to have a successful experience in wine not just being turned off by all the information that is out there because sometimes that can be overwhelming.”

Also, the interior of the building was designed to ensure a comfortable atmosphere from the terracotta walls to the warm colors.

“It all came together very quickly and it looks great,” Semper said. “It gives everyone a nice welcoming feel when they walk into the store.”