The new shelving and the abolished storeroom (which will eventually be given over to rented cellar space) are just two of the physical changes Karcho wrought. Pretty much every downstairs wall that wasn't load bearing came out; what was a meandering succession of themed rooms (Champagnes, dessert wines, Italian and Spanish, large-format, etc.) is now a few wide-open spaces. It's not the sort of place through which a devotee might be tempted to wander and browse and get lost anymore. It's more orderly, more open, more user-friendly. It's not a warehouse: the ancient and massive beams overhead -- together with a low, wood-plank ceiling and blocky wooden supports -- see to that. But it is more efficient than it was, and there's more to come.
"Our goal is to be an online store," says Karcho. General manager Bryan Farres elaborates. "To move things like the Gaja, we need nationwide exposure, not just local." Farres is happy with the recent proliferation of wine shops, thinking that more venues only serve to fan the flames, but even with the downtown boom, you need a broader base to unload that much premium product. You need your shop to come up on Google searches, and you need to be able to sell product online.
What hasn't changed: most of the staff survived the transition, including Farres. Karcho professes a deep commitment to service, and there, Farres is his exemplar. "Look at that," he says, watching Farres advise one customer as he builds an impromptu gift box for another. "Just so he can please the customer. Can you get that from a big-box store? Here you have people coming in and saying, 'Bryan, what did you get in that's really cool today?'" And Farres will tell them.