Sam’s Quik Shop owner looks to open second bottle shop in South Durham

Jun. 14, 2013 @ 06:02 PM

When transportation officials were eying the business’s land for a bus turnaround and parking area for a now-suspended regional rail project, owner John Boy Jr. said he was considering selling Sam’s Quik Shop on Erwin Road.

Boy’s parents, John S. Boy Sr. and Geraldine Boy, had started the business as a drive-in restaurant near Duke University called the Blue Light in the 1940s. The location was later converted into a full convenience store, and Boy said he came back to work at the shop in the late 1980s.
At one point, Boy said he was thinking of selling the store, and was looking into other jobs. But then the transportation project was suspended. And in 2005, the “Pop the Cap” movement happened.
That led to a change in state law allowing for the sale of malt beverages, or beer, lagers, malt liquors, ales or porters, with an alcohol-by-volume content of up to 15 percent, up from 6 percent. It brought a new “light and excitement” to the business, Boy said.
The shop began converting into a beer store in that year, starting to kick out any products that were not alcohol.
The shop’s beer and wine sales had started with his mother, Boy said, who ordered the products for the shop.
He said she knew she could sell beer and wine to professionals from area universities and companies relocating to the area, as well as to locals.
“There wasn’t a whole lot available back then, but anything that was, they were carrying it,” Boy said.
But after 2005, he said beer selection available for sale in the state “just exploded.” The shop is now dedicated to beer sales. Boy estimated recently that he had about 1,600 different types of beer for sale inside the shop.
Sam’s has gluten-free beer, sections for North Carolina and European brews, as well as mead and cider. Customers can buy beer on-tap to drink while they shop in the store. The shop also hosts beer and local food-related events.
“It’s not just, ‘have a bottle of wine at dinner’ anymore,” Boy said. “You can have a nice bottle of beer at dinner.”
Other bottle shops have opened in the Triangle, Boy said, and he believes they’re doing well. And now he’s plotting his own expansion.
He said he’s under contract for land on N.C. 54 in South Durham near an existing Advance Auto Parts store and a KFC/Taco Bell. The property is across from the Hope Valley Commons shopping center and is near N.C. 54’s intersection with N.C. 751.
Boy said he’s planning to build a standalone store called Sam’s Bottle Shop on the site that will have a second-floor tasting room. He said he’s hoping to close on the purchase later this month, to begin construction this summer, and to have the store open before the holidays. He wants to be able to hold educational events in the store to spread awareness about craft beer.
“I want to reach out to Durham,” he said. “I want everybody on board with craft beer.”
The prospect of the acquisition of the Erwin Road site is also another reason he wants to open a second store, Boy said, although he said he doesn’t expect anything, if it does happen, to come together for a decade or more.
Brad Schulz, a spokesman for Triangle Transit and the Research Triangle Regional Public Transportation Authority, said in an email that bus pull-offs and short-term parking were considered for the property at Sam’s Quik Shop as part of a rail project, but that was “closed out and permanently suspended” several years ago.
The proposed 28-mile Triangle rail system was in the final engineering design phase when it was withdrawn in 2006, according to Schulz, after criteria changes that altered that project’s ability to compete for federal dollars.
Now there’s a new proposal on the table for a light-rail system, but Schulz said more planning will be needed before it’s determined which properties will be affected and what will be located on each site.
However, a map showing preliminary light-rail station locations on the website shows a Ninth Street station on property across Erwin Road from Sam’s near the road’s the intersection with Main Street.
Any property that will be required for the Durham-Orange Light Rail project would be acquired after the environmental impact statement is completed. Environmental planning is expected to start next year. It’s expected to be completed by 2016.
“Until more details plans are completed for the 17-mile light rail project between Durham and Chapel Hill, we will not know with certainty (that) the real property that will or will not be needed,” Schulz said in an email.