Beverage Dynamics

Beverage Dynamics Jan-Feb 2016

Beverage Dynamics is the largest national business magazine devoted exclusively to the needs of off-premise beverage alcohol retailers, from single liquor stores to big box chains, through coverage of the latest trends in wine, beer and spirits.

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Page 33 of 71 Toast of the Town FIFTY YEARS IN, HI-TIME WINE CELLARS REMAINS A COMMUNITY INSTITUTION. By Sarah Protzman Howlett Chuck Hanson remembers the fi rst six-pack he ever sold. It was 1957. His brother, Fritz, and brother-in-law, Jim McVay, built a beer store at 17th and Irvine in Costa Mesa, California, using land they'd inherited from Fritz's in-laws. "Fritz's father-in-law really encouraged him to use the land wisely—to do something with it," Chuck Hanson recalls. "So we said, 'It might as well be beer. Everybody knows beer.'" The trio built a tall, a two-sided clock outside the store and named it Hi-Time. After a customer pulled that fi rst six-pack off the shelf and paid for it, the three went home and celebrated with a $2 bottle of Champagne. "That was the nice stuff ," Chuck says. "And we thought, 'This is going to be easy.'" T H E E A R LY D A Y S Before entering the beverage alcohol industry, the Hansons were fi shermen in Juneau, Alaska. Their mother was very adventur- ous and exposed her sons to diff erent ways of life. After moving to Beaumont, Washington to pursue a job in health care, they soon relocated to Cuba. That move was followed by a return to W a s h i n g t o n , and finally a stint in Hawaii. In December 1941 the Jap- anese bombed Pearl Harbor. Chuck says, "We were stuck there for a cou- ple of years." Once able to leave, the family settled fi rst in San Pedro, before moving to the Costa Mesa area. The area was largely uninhabited at the time the store opened, but customers didn't take long to fi nd the store. Some of them, like the actor John Wayne, became regulars. Wayne had an interest in little-known liquors, Chuck says, recalling a 1950s interview in Playboy where Wayne said he drank tequila. The now-ubiquitous spirit, Chuck says, took off after Wayne mentioned it to the maga- zine; Hi-Time now carries more than 100 varieties. E X P A N D I N G T H E F A M I LY Chuck's interest in wine piqued after seeing his brother Harold's wartime photos of underground wine caves. Harold served in the Army in France, near Burgundy, and after returning became the store's general manager. He held that position for 40 years - even in retirement he still comes by occasionally. Chuck then became the store's primary wine buyer. Current CEO and General Manager Diana Hanson Hirst's uncle McVay passed away in 1982, having sold his part in the business 10 to 15 years before. The toughest stretch for Hi-Time came a couple years later in 1984, when the business moved to 250 Ogle Street in Costa Mesa. The family didn't have much extra help during that time, Hirst says, so the transition was stressful and they had to work hard to ensure customers knew about the new location. Nearby they built a 3,000 square foot, three-story, under- ground, temperature-controlled wine cellar—one of the largest in the country and, at the time, one of the fi rst in the area. E X P A N D I N G T H E B U S I N E S S "We started importing from Germany and had low prices," Chuck says. "We traveled to Los Angeles, met the people and saw what they were doing. Then we started advertising with articles in the newspaper about wine. We always said yes to anybody who off ered us a tasting." Hi-time Wine Cellar Fast Facts LOCATION: Costa Mesa, CA FOUNDED: 1957 FOUNDERS: Fritz Hanson and Jim McVay SIZE: 24,000 square foot retail space; 3,000 square foot wine cellar, Walk-in beer fridge SELECTION: 10,000+ wines, 400 cigar brands HI-TIME Family Tree Fritz Hanson (Co-Founder; Retired) Diana Hanson Hirst (CEO) Chuck Hanson (Wine buyer) Harold Hanson (GM; Retired) Jim McVay (Co-Founder; Deceased) Keith Hanson (Liquor Buyer) Don Hanson (Customer Service) Vicki Hanson (Purchasing/Receiving) Tracy Hanson (Gourmet Food Buyer) Charlie Hirst (Online Sales) Kyle Hirst Jordan Hanson (Soda Buyer) Skylar Hanson

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