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34 Years for Arlington Wine & Spirits: "It's Pretty Amazing"

When the two partners decided to open up shop in Kensington, they were in their 20s with no money and a many months of work ahead building everything themselves from scratch.

Business: Arlington Wine & Spirits

Co-Owner: Alan Fischer, 62.

How long have you been here in business? 34 years. I have a partner, who is the same age (Don Bruschera) – we both started it.

What made you choose this location? His father owned this building. He was the pharmacist next door, as was my partner—he was a pharmacist, went to pharmacist school. That’s where we met, in college—Davis. His dad owned it for years, and when Don came to work for his dad, he noticed that there was an old five-and-dime here that was barely hanging on. It was paying like nine or 19 cents a square foot, literally.

He had this idea, “Hey, let’s open a wine store.” That was the birth of the idea. ... We started remodeling in March. We had to tear everything (out). It was just a pile of crap. We built everything, had all the racks painted, put the floor in, built the counters, everything. We didn’t have any money; we had to do everything ourselves. It took us from March to when we opened on November 4, 1978.

What is your impression of this area? Has it changed? It’s changed a lot in the last 10 or 12 years. As prices got crazy, went up and up, a lot of people either retired or moved on, sold to get the value of their house, or died, or whatever, but the community turned over quite a bit, just because of the people that were able to live up here. It’s a lot of professionals—it’s changed in that sense. There are still a lot of academics—I think the bulk of the community is that way. This community has historically been very frugal—it still is. There are people who are less so, but that’s the exception.

Has working in Kensington been a pleasant experience? Oh, it’s been fun. We’ve been very fortunate that we have such a nice, mellow place to be. It’s pretty amazing that we’ve lasted 34 years.

I bet you never thought you would still be here in 34 years. People ask me, “How long you been here,” and I go, “34 years,” and they go, “What? You’re so young!”

How old were you when you started? 28. 

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