Nejaime to uncork fourth store
The Nejaime's group of family-owned liquor stores, first established in Stockbridge 42 years ago, is about to expand to its fourth location following the Great Barrington Select Board's recent approval of a license transfer from an existing beverage operator in the Big Y Shopping Plaza.
Joseph Nejaime, 54, plans to open there in a few weeks pending state approval of the transfer. He will assume the current lease of Grape Finds, the liquor store at 700 S. Main St. (Route 7), opening a branch of Nejaime's Wine Cellar while continuing to operate his Stockbridge and downtown Lenox stores.
At the same time, his brother and longtime business partner James Nejaime, 55, has become sole proprietor of the store off Routes 7 and 20, which opened in 1988. In the near future, he plans to rebrand the business at 444 Pittsfield Lenox Road at the Holmes Road intersection.
"It's an opportunity and I think it's a superb market," said Joe Nejaime, referring to the Great Barrington area. "It's an existing license and allows me to do our style of store. I want to give all of the strength from the buying and marketing power of a group of stores and the visibility of a Route 7 location."
He said the Great Barrington store would be comparable to his other stores' "extensive wine selection and cheese offerings, customer service and competitive pricing." Eventually, he'd like to do "new and exciting things," he added.
At the same time, Nejaime is planning a special event on June 30 to celebrate his 30th anniversary in Lenox, a town he described as business-friendly "if you work within their procedures and bylaws."
Asked about the brothers' decision to go their separate ways as business entrepreneurs, Joe Nejaime said: "I think we're both excited about the opportunity and the prospects. It's a maturing. It works for our families. We both have three young-adult daughters. It makes us both able to steer these later years of our interests in the wine business."
"My brother and I decided this was the right time and the right way to do what we needed to," he added. "We wish each other the best of luck, that's the reality."
Noting that his daughters -- Jenna, who works for Iredale Cosmetics; Adria; and Lily, a 10th grader at Lenox High -- may or may not want to enter the business eventually, he said there are "estate realities" that will be advantageous to each of the brothers.
"Being independent allows that," he said, "so this was an appropriate way to do it."
"It was an amicable decision to do things more separately than in the past," said Jim Nejaime, adding that he would make his plans to carve out a separate identity for his Pittsfield Road store in the near future.
As for the impact of the Great Recession, Joe Nejaime acknowledged "slow growth, but it's been stable."
This year, he's seeing an upswing.
"I think things are picking up really nicely," he said, "and that might be a function of the Berkshires as being a bit insular. We have this well-located, fairly secure demographic that supplements this area."
To reach Clarence Fanto:
or (413) 496-6247.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto
Nejaime family business time line
1964: The Nejaime family relocates to Stockbridge from Torrington, Conn., to operate Nejaime's Stockbridge Shop, as they originally named it, on Main Street (as depicted in a Norman Rockwell illustration).
1970: Nabih and Marilyn Nejaime open the Stockbridge Wine Cellar on Elm Street.
1978: Their sons, Joseph and James Nejaime, take over operation of the Stockbridge Wine Cellar.
1982: The brothers open a Nejaime's Wine Cellar location in Lenox, first on Franklin Street, later relocated to Church Street and, in 1999, to the current Main Street site.
1986: The Nejaimes sell their Stockbridge market; Nabih focuses on operating Nejaime's Lavasch (a popular Middle Eastern flatbread
product); Marilyn and sister Carolyn open VIP Travel in Stockbridge, which they
continue to operate.
1988: The Nejaime brothers open their third store on Pittsfield-Lenox Road (Routes 7 & 20) at the intersection with Holmes Road.
2012: The Nejaime brothers separate their business enterprises, with James becoming sole proprietor of the Pittsfield-Lenox Road store, while Joseph adds a Great Barrington location adjacent to Big Y on South Main Street to his Stockbridge and downtown Lenox holdings.
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