CRYSTAL LAKE – Jeremy Brock began as a stock boy at Cardinal Wine and Spirits as a way to make ends meet more than 13 years ago.
Through hard work and dedication, the Crystal Lake resident worked his way up to the ranks of general manager, a position he has held at the family-owned business for more than six years.
“I was offered every opportunity in the world here, and just kind of started to develop a knack for the business,” said Brock, 33. “This place allows me to eat and take care of my family.”
Longtime employees like Brock have contributed to the ongoing success of Cardinal Wine and Spirits, which recently celebrated its 40th year in Crystal Lake as a member of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce.
The business opened in 1962 after the Garfield family seized the opportunity to buy what was then considered prime real estate along an expanding Route 14.
The family had been in the liquor distribution business since 1951, and Bruce Garfield stepped in to work with his father at the Crystal Lake location after graduating college 23 years later.
There are now four Cardinal stores – named for the state bird – all of which focus on customer satisfaction, Garfield said.
“Some of these customers have walked in our doors for the last 35 years or so,” he said. “It’s a family atmosphere because we try to get to know these people.”
“I spend more time with my coworkers and customers than I probably do with my own family, said the father of two children. “It is a great feeling when people walk in and you can talk to them personally. It’s like one big happy family.”
Starting by offering a typical beer, wine and liquor list, the business has evolved over the years to now include both domestic and imported beers as well as the handcrafted beers that are growing in popularity.
The building at 305 W. Virginia St. also showcases local, national and international wines, as well as most liquors and a humidor for cigar enthusiasts. Cardinal Wine and Spirits hosts tastings and diner packages, and has added finer foods to its inventory.
Aiding customers with the selection process is Scot Stadalsky, known as Cardinal's “wine guy.”
The 51-year-old has spent more than 13 years handling everything wine-related, from ordering to tasting.
“I taste a lot of bad wine so our customers don’t have to,” Stadalsky said. “It’s the passion for the wine that keeps me here.”
Surviving 40 years in an ever-changing economic climate has been accomplished with strong community relationships and a solid employee base, which includes many with tenures of more than 20 years.
“Crystal Lake is a little friendlier and homier than anywhere else,” Garfield said. “The business has changed and we've had to change with it.”
Cardinal Wine and Spirits is one of 24 businesses that have been members of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce for more than 40 years.
The business plans to open two new Cardinal stores outside of the county over the next two years.
Cardinal Wine and Spirits:
What: A family-owned business selling alcohol and fine foods
Where: 305 W. Virginia St., Crystal Lake
Information: Call 815-459-4050