Madison Cellars held a celebration this week for the store’s 30th anniversary. Proprietor Pete Clark opened the business in 1988 alongside his brother, Jim.

Photo by Duncan Dent
Madison Cellars held a celebration this week for the store’s 30th anniversary. Proprietor Pete Clark opened the business in 1988 alongside his brother, Jim. Photo by Duncan Dent
Madison Cellars Fine Wines and Spirits celebrated its 30th anniversary on Tuesday where proprietor Pete Clark and his staff commemorate 30 years of success and service to the Madison community.

Clark worked as a geological aide and driller for the Mississippi Geological Survey for seven years before he made the decision to open a business alongside his brother Jim in 1988.

“At that time, there was not much retail in the City of Madison, but we saw the potential for growth,” Clarksaid. “Madison Station Shopping Center with Jitney Jungle had just opened in 1987, and there were a few retail spaces available. After doing some research, we decided a wine shop next to the grocery store would be a good fit for us as well as the Madison community.”

The store began as a 400-square foot shop with just two wine racks and some liquor. With no other shelving, Clark often had to use empty boxes from other area wine stores to stack product for display.

“I didn’t know much about wine and liquor in the beginning,” he said. “I was more of a beer drinker. I began doing research and taking courses to become a sommelier. Luckily, the business grew at such a pace that I was able to take the time to really learn more about and appreciate wines.”

Today, the store has expanded to over 4,000 square feet and offers a large selection of fine and unusual wines and liquor.

Over the years, Madison Cellars has managed to remain one of the top retailers in the state. Currently, it ranks 12th overall out of 600 package stores and 8th in wine sales.

Clark said the best part of his job is the relationships he has created with the Madison community, as well as his employees.

“My employees are considered part of my family, and they genuinely care about the business and developing relationships with our customers,” he said. “With our regular customers, we are often able to anticipate their needs because of the personal relationships they have built with them. I aim to build loyalty with both my customers and my employees.”

Clark said that while big box stores who carry similar products have started to crop up in the area, his customers realize the value of shopping local.

“The advantage of shopping at a locally-owned business is that we are able to care for each customer’s needs and we are knowledgeable about the products we are selling,” he said. “A smaller retailer is far more focused on the individual customer and providing quality products and service. At Madison Cellars, we appreciate each customer and want to make them happy about where they have decided to shop. “

Clark strongly believes in giving back to the community he serves. Whether it is raising money for Alzheimer’s of Mississippi by the auctioning of the very rare Pappy Van Winkle bourbon to mentoring young people at church, work and in the community, he always looks to support and lift others.

“Madison Cellars donates to just about every local charity, fundraiser, community golf tournament, school and church function that requests donations,” he said. “The people who work here live in Madison and send their children to the public and private schools in the area. It makes a difference in where you live if you know where your money is going after it hits the register. Small shops do not get big tax breaks or incentives to open or send their deposits to billion dollar corporations. It all stays local, and I like that. ”

One unique way Pete uses his business to give back is by donating scotch to the Gravediggers Guild at Chapel of the Cross. This group digs all of the graves by hand of those who are to be buried at the Chapel. There is an old Celtic tradition of consecrating the ground with spirits as the grave is being dug. At the finish, the remaining scotch is poured into the ground and prayers are offered up.

“I have learned over the years that Pete uses his work as a ministry alongside it being his livelihood,” said Corey McKnight, a long-time employee of Madison Cellars. “Through celebrations, times of relaxation, and even grieving, he uses his work to add a human touch for others during both the significant and mundane moments of life.”

By serving the community and working hard over the last 30 years, Clark has created a thriving business with Madison Cellars and hopes to continue serving the people of Madison for many years to come.

Madison Cellars is located at 1038 Highway 51. Visit Pete and his two dogs, Sugar and Lou, on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.