Oak Brook wine stores keeps up spirits
Emmet Malloy III (from left), Emmett Malloy, and Mary Claire Malloy continue to own and operate SavWay Fine Wines & Spirits in Oak Brook. The store has been open since 1971. | Chuck Fieldman—Sun-Times Media
In the spirit
Name: SavWay Fine Wines & Spirits
Address: 3821 S. York Road
Store hours: 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Monday-Wednesday; 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Thursday-Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday
Phone number: 630-325-6550
Updated: January 21, 2013 1:55AM
OAK BROOK — Competing with the big boys isn’t easy.
But it’s a challenge SavWay Fine Wines & Spirits has been meeting at its Oak Brook store since opening in 1971.
The store was the sixth of nine owned and operated by the Malloy family. The business was originally started in 1933 in Glen Ellyn by Emmett Malloy, whose son, Emmett Malloy, opened the store in Oak Brook.
“We lived in Oak Brook, and I thought this was a great area to open a store,” Malloy said.
Malloy’s daughter, Mary Claire Malloy, still has a photo of herself handling the scissors as a young child for the ribbon cutting ceremony held before construction began. She now is vice president of the business; her father remains president. Malloy’s son, Emmett Malloy III also is involved in SavWay.
“Customer service is the big key to being able to compete with the big-box stores,” Mary Claire Malloy said. “It’s very difficult to compete with places like Costco because they are able to buy in such large quantities. But they don’t have the customer service or selection that we do.”
Malloy said that while customer service has always been a priority at SavWay, her family is very conscious of keeping prices competitive.
“Sometimes, we have to buy big to get better pricing,” she said. “We are more convenient, and we know what a lot of our customers like. We do a lot to connect with people and be involved in the community. And we’ll work hard to find something that someone never will be able to get at one of the big-box stores.”
Malloy said wine accounts for 55 to 60 percent of sales at SavWay; liquor, about 30 percent; and beer, about 10 percent.
“Americans have become very savvy wine drinkers at all price points,” she said. “I don’t necessarily want someone to walk out of here with a $50 bottle of wine; I’m very happy if they walk out with a $10 bottle and tell their friends about it.”
Malloy said craft beers have recently increased in popularity; single-malt scotch, vodka, and bourbon also are popular items at SavWay.
“We try very hard to keep up with things, and that’s a challenge because there’s always so much and many new things,” she said.
The Malloy’s faced a challenge in July 2010 when Salt Creek flooding resulted in substantial damage to their storefront and forced them to close the business for two weeks.
“It was a tough time, but our customers came back to us,” Mary Claire Malloy said. “That really felt good for all of us, and knowing how they came back helps when we have more difficult days.”