Despite opening in 2008 in the middle of an economic downturn, New Canaan Wine Merchants and owner Jeff Barbour are still thriving at 36 Pine St. Thanks in large part to adapting to customers' needs, having ample parking and an educated clientele, Barbour said his store will be around for a long time.

"We try not to pigeonhole ourselves into one particular category. There are some places that just sell beer. There are some places that sell a lot of high-end wine. We try to have a selection where, if you're on a budget and you can't afford too much, you can shop here," Barbour said.

"But if you've just made a big bonus and you feel like splurging and doing something special, then we can help you there, too. I think any business model where you can help the most broad spectrum of clientele, that's a big part of why we're successful."

Another reason for success is the business' commitment to New Canaan and different aspects of the community.

"Since we've been open in 2008, we've donated probably around $100,000 to local charities," Barbour said. "That's mainly through fundraising, special events here and off

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site. We do a lot of work with organizations in town that need our help."

Organizations and causes the store has helped include the New Canaan Community Foundation, Young Philanthropists Fund, the NCHS Scholarship Fund, the Mikey Czech Foundation and more. On top of that, the store has been conducting a wine education program since day one.

"We're really concentrating on education. We figure that mostly everyone in New Canaan has a pretty good education," Barbour said. "If they are that well educated, we think they are maybe interested in learning about wine. So as a result, we have a really active wine education program."

A new focus for the business is offering travel opportunities

for customers who want to check out quality vineyards around the world.

"We know we can't do everything. But we try to do the important stuff," Barbour said. "We're really about trying to develop a complete wine culture here and that's not just about selling basic chardonnay off the floor."

New Canaan Wine Merchants owner Jeff Barbour can be reached at jeff@newcanaanwine.com.

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