Small Business Profile

First County Small Business Profile: Star Wines & Spirits, Stamford

Star Wines & Spirits is a 4th generation family owned business in Stamford that opened right after Prohibition in 1933. It was one of the first liquor stores to obtain a permit in Connecticut. Keir Curran, owner of Star Wines & Spirits, has been running the business since Jan. 1, 1998, when his uncle decided to retire.

“My uncle wanted to keep the business going so he asked me if I would take it over. I was nervous and at the same time very excited to become a business owner at such a young age,” says Curran.

He was 28 years old and ready to take on a new challenge in his life. While being the business owner was new territory for him, Curran was very familiar with Star Wines & Spirits since he spent quite a bit of time there as a child.

“When I was 10, I used to stock the shelves, dust bottles and carry cases around,” says Curran. “My mom needed a babysitter, so she would drop me off at the store,” he laughs. “After spending so much time there, I became very familiar with the business.”

Back in the day, Star Wines & Spirits primarily sold wines and other alcohol. Today, in addition to a large collection of wines and spirits, the store offers event and party planning services and gift baskets. It specializes in California wines.

In 2002, Curran had to move his store because the city was erecting a hotel in its original location. Describing it as one of the more challenging times, he got through it and now views the move as fortuitous as the new location is in an area with more foot traffic and residents.

In 2006, Curran was introduced to First County Bank by his accountant. At the time, he had a relationship with a small bank that was eventually taken over by a big bank. Curran describes that “big bank” experience as unfortunate because he became just another number and lost the personalized service he had always appreciated from the smaller bank.

Curran met with Gotrell McLellan, branch manager of First County Bank’s Prospect Street branch in Stamford, and Brian Begley, business development officer at the Bank, to discuss a business checking account, line of credit, quick loans and cash for renovating his store.

“There was no red tape, I immediately got real polished service, [First County Bank] made me feel good,” explains Curran. “The people there know your name and go out of their way to show you that they appreciate your business.”

Pleased with the service, Curran transferred his personal accounts over to First County Bank as well.

He adds that bank employees send business to his store regularly and often stop by to see if he needs anything. “They reciprocate the relationship; what other bank does that?”

When asked about the future, he says he’s thinking about opening another location in Stamford.

“What I’d really love to do is move to Napa. It’s just gorgeous there. However, I don’t think that will happen anytime soon, so next steps will be a second store,” concludes Curran.

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