Article By Mary Jurek & Piera Klein
I recently took a trip to one of our retail partners just north of San Francisco in Sonoma, California whose store always received wonderful accolades from colleagues in our tabletop industry. It was a trip nothing short of spectacular. Traveling from San Francisco through the pastoral scenery of Northern California the stress from the hustle and bustle of everyday life gradually faded. People go there for the peace and quiet, and that is exactly what we felt as we rolled into the center of this wine region’s town square.
Nestled on the western corner of Sonoma Square, Summer Vine’s diagonal canopied entry welcomes you into a private world that mirrors all the images of what the California wine region represents. It takes years to develop a great viticulture and this store seems to understand that physiognomy. The store looks like it had been in that spot for a long time. The interior is fitted with 19th century Chinese Ming style furniture and blue & white vases. A heavy, super long European country table runs the length of the front room. As you venture into the next room, a tremendous large Chinese double door with metal fittings predominantly decorates a back wall. Even the back area for employees has an exquisite Japanese mizuya in elmwood serving a useful storage purpose. The crowning touch was noticing the palladium style windows wrapping around the store. I felt I was standing in a perfect world in the midst of all my beloved decorative arts icons.
It is not surprising the store’s treasures found ideal showcasing there. The expansive country table in the entry room was loaded with napkin rings, glazed tableware and textiles, colored in the sun-filled palette range of the earthy south of France or Tuscany. Along the wall, the sweet essence of candles and room fragrances kept you lingering.
The adjoining larger area had racks filled with hand-blown etched drinking glasses in an exotic midnight blue. A small dark alcove was draped with hand stitched quilts. Travel around the corner and you find even more—area rugs and humorous folk art animals holding pocket watches. There is something for every one- and please notice all the over-sized timepieces throughout!
Owners, Linda Corzine and Joan Sayler have that magic spark that takes everyday necessities to a higher level. The store is loaded with so much verve and elegant product mixing, that we thought it would be a great idea to discover their story in an interview.
Piera Klein: Sonoma, California is a scenic destination with a lot of charm and an outstanding worldwide reputation. How long has Summer Vine been located in Sonoma County?
Linda Corzine/Joan Sayler: 15 years
Piera Klein: You mentioned a previous store location in Marin County. Were the demographics and tastes of your customer base similar to those of your current clients here at SummerVine? Were you able to bring many of the same product lines and vendors to this location, or was this store established with a different point of view?
Linda Corzine/Joan Sayler: Many of our customers from Marin have weekend retreats here in Sonoma. Our focus in Marin was more art and antiques … in Sonoma we are able to showcase products for the entire home.
Piera Klein: SummerVine style blends in so perfectly with all the images of this famous wine growing region. The casual, elegant style of many of your product lines are perfectly tailored to that lifestyle trend. How do you navigate the trends, stay tuned into the economy, and offer exciting products while remaining on even course with your core business plan?
Linda Corzine/Joan Sayler: The last few years have been a challenge for everyone in this industry … along with the growing e-commerce. We select and stock our products carefully. Quality is available at every price point and our merchandise mix reflects that. The Wine Country lifestyle is relaxed and understated … but elegantly casual. Classic style and antiques add a statement and stability to every environment. So we are current without being trendy.
Piera Klein: The latest business buzz word is “customer-centricity”. More discussion is about putting the customer at the center of business and how to make the existing customers more loyal. Sonoma county serves a large group of tourists in this area. How do you focus on both? What is the strategy for Summer Vine?
Linda Corzine/Joan Sayler: The local customer is the backbone of our business and the barometer of our success. We provide our visitors with the opportunity to take home the look and a remembrance of the Wine Country experience… and it is wonderful how many of them return year after year. We truly appreciate all our loyal clientele who appreciate the personalized customer service we provide.
Piera Klein: Customer service is always so important keeping the clients happy and coming back. In addition to having a wonderful staff, how do you reach your customers and do you use social media?
Linda Corzine/Joan Sayler: Yes, we have a wonderful staff that keeps in contact with our local and Bay Area clientele… . and all our clients who request information on specific products. We have always been comfortable with our traditional methods to keep in touch with our customers - so for now we are not using social media.
Piera Klein: If you could briefly describe in a few words what sets Summer Vine apart from the competition, what would it be?
We strive to find the best that is available on the market … and believe that unique, handmade, quality design is affordable for everyone. We showcase how to incorporate pieces into a personalized style. Generic design may have its place but there is nothing like handcrafted pottery, glass, metals and linens to enhance our environment.
100 West Spain Street
Sonoma, CA 95476
Tel: (707) 933-8810
Photo: Piera Klein, editor Design-Connect
Mary Jurek Design