Not your average beer store: Earlybird’s Bottle Shop

Earlybird’s Bottle Shop owners and longtime friends Sev Ayer and Earl Bunch. (WYDaily / Ben Mackin)

POQUOSON – With more than 200 breweries in the Commonwealth of Virginia and several dozen in Hampton Roads, local beer lovers come close to finding their favorite style.

However, it can be difficult to access craft breweries that are not in your area and even more difficult to find beer from these breweries in grocery stores due to the smaller distribution footprint of a craft brewery. individual.

Luckily for the locals of the Hampton Roads Peninsula, all they have to do is head to Earlybird’s Bottle Shop in Poquoson to find what they’re looking for and the chance to browse hundreds of other beers.

Located on Wythe Creek Road, the store, which opened last August, is the brainchild of Poquoson natives and longtime friends Sev Ayers and Earl Bunch.

The couple graduated from Poquoson High School in 2007 and have long talked about starting a business together, ideally, in their hometown.

After high school and college, Sev worked in the auto industry and Earl ran a pharmacy. In their free time, the two friends were having fun drinking beer.

“We started trying craft beers because we were tired of drinking the same thing,” Sev said. “We started to like trying new things. We started to go out of our way south or even Richmond to find what we were looking for. So we thought about opening something up in the middle, and it looked like Poquoson would be a good place for that.

Many new business owners quickly talk about the obstacles and pushbacks they’ve faced when opening their store. However, Sev was quick to point out how Poquoson, as a community, gladly welcomed their shop.

“So far everyone has been very receptive and that’s very important to us,” Sev said. “The city supported us from day one and it was a good feeling. We didn’t know what kind of feedback we would get when we opened a beer store. “

Once Sev and Earl secured the necessary support from the local government, they spent months converting a 74-year-old building that once housed the Dare Barber Shop into the Earlybird’s Bottle Shop.

“We enjoyed it,” Sev says of the renovation process. “It was a feeling of pride to prepare the place. We didn’t have to do much. The place was built in 1947 from oak and it has the aesthetic we were looking for and we just worked from that.

Earlybird’s Bottle Shop on Wythe Creek Road in Poquoson (WYDaily / Ben Mackin)

Knowing that beer isn’t the only libation in demand, owners pride themselves on having a healthy selection of wines, seltzer, ciders and mead.

In addition to drinks, the Earlybird offers a wide range of grilling and cooking accessories, as well as beer brewers and other drinking accessories.

As if that wasn’t enough, Earlybird also sells consignment artwork from local artists.

“We try to showcase local artists and what they bring to the community,” Sev said. “We are not your typical beer store. We try to offer a bit of everything.

Going forward, Sev and Earl plan to open a tasting room at the back of the store where customers can fill up on draft beer.

“There’s a beer for every occasion,” Sev notes. “It seems like everyone who walks into the store is having fun checking us out and seeing the selection and variety we have and end up walking away happy. This is the name of the game.

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