Business Taps Into Growing Greenville Market
The Community Tap, a craft beer and wine store on Wade Hampton Boulevard, celebrated it's two year anniversary this month.
What do you get when get a former geographical information systems expert and a product marketer for an electric motor company together? Apparently, a craft beer and wine store whose appeal is only getting broader.
Mike Okupinski, a Taylors resident, and Greenville resident Ed Buffington are co-owners of The Community Tap, a unique craft beer and wine store that recently celebrated its two-year anniversary.
Buffington, who moved to the Upstate from Atlanta in 2003, was part of a large group of mutual friends with Okupinski, who had been working for the City of Greenville and Greenville County in the GIS department since 1999.
"We were a part of a large group of mutual friends. We hung out a lot together and about two-and-a-half years ago, we just decided to pull the trigger on the store," Buffington said.
Since its opening on July 1, 2010, the store has continued to expand, growing from six beer taps to 12, plus three wine taps and a new tasting room. The Community Tap became the first retailer in the country to incorporate the "growler" concept - sealable jugs in which craft beer can be taken home and refilled at the customer's leisure - to wine, a business innovation that led to the business being mentioned in the New York Times.
"We were really the first store in Greenville that just had an all craft beer focus," Buffington said. "There were some big box stores that had some craft beer and wine, but it was just another product on the shelf to them. Here, we're not trying to just sell everything under sun."
That isn't to say the tap's selection isn't bountiful. From flavorful stout known as Westbrook Mexican Cake to to the crispness of a Coast HopArt IPA, plus hundreds of European and American craft bottled beers, along with dozens of wine varieties, the store can easily keep an intrigued connoisseur browsing for hours.
"Mike and I kind of wanted a store where we could shop for ourselves," Buffington said. "Luckily, Greenville was ready for the same thing."
Okupinski said the booming success of Barley's Tap Room, a downtown venue that boasts craft beers instead of just the traditional macro-brewed beers, helped set the tone for their own business.
"We have to give some of the credit to Josh Beeby, who owns Barley's," Okupinski said. "There were a lot of people in this town who were already beer savvy. He kind of started to educate people in Greenville about craft beer."
The Community Tap has eschewed traditional print advertising, opting instead to forge ahead with a robust social media presence, through which the business communicates its calendar of tastings, its new wine and beer offerings and other happenings.
The store is located at 205 Wade Hampton Boulevard.