PEPPERELL -- Craft beer enthusiasts, look no further. Pepperell may be the region's next destination spot for fine beverages.
Selectmen have approved an application for Pepperell Beverage, which will bring craft beers, artisan wines and a knowledgeable staff to 2 Tarbell St.
"I want it to be a destination place where you can have fun, learn, explore and discover," owner Randall Brubaker said.
The 3,000-square-foot space behind the 7-11, which has been vacant for more than two years, will house a craft beer cave, wine racks, craft spirits, two tasting bars, glassware and accessories.
The store will feature a custom-designed labeling system, which Brubaker said will allow customers to find beers and wines that are similar to those they like, allowing them to branch out with little risk.
"A lot of people look at a wall of craft beer, and they end up just grabbing Sam Adams because they don't know. The labeling system will help them to find another beer in the same area and comfortably begin to explore," Brubaker said.
"It'll help people to learn more in an easy way, and allow people to browse and not be confused. We want to get people to come and stay," he said.
A Pepperell resident since 2003, Brubaker said he hopes the store will make Pepperell a destination for both beverage lovers and those who are new to the world of high-quality beer and wine.
"I've talked to a lot of people in town, and most people either travel pretty far to get their beer, or don't know much about it but want to learn. I feel like this is the right place and the right town that everyone else is neglecting," Brubaker said.
Eventually, Brubaker said he hopes to expand by opening other stores in the region.
Despite concerns that he said have been raised about having two other package stores nearby, Brubaker said he believes the new store will complement the existing stores in town by offering different inventory and catering to a different clientele.
"I think it'll bring traffic from neighbor towns, and we'll probably only have about 5 to 10 percent overlap in our stock," Brubaker said.
Selectman Michael Green said he voted in favor of granting the license in part because Brubaker's proposal was so different.
"I felt that the applicant brought a good plan. What he put together is much different than the package stores we already have in town," Green said.
"It's a business that would keep some people from going other places and attract other people into town, and those people would hopefully spend money at other places," he said.
Although Selectmen Chairman Stephen Themelis recused himself from the vote, due to a conflict of interest based on work he has done with the applicant, he said he considers the Board of Selectmen to be generally pro-business. This application, he said, was no exception.
"There are a lot of commercial spaces available and we try to bring business to the town of Pepperell and make this a destination. It takes one business at a time to make that happen," Themelis said.