‘Say it ain’t so!’ Trailblazing York shop to close after 32 years

Just a few of the amazing selection of beers and wines in the shop. Photograph: Richard McDougall
1 Feb 2017 @ 8.49 pm
| Food & Drink, Shopping

It is a truly trailblazing shop.

But 32 years after changing the face of the off-licence, York Beer And Wine Shop is to close.

The Aladdin’s Cave of beer, wine and cheese on Sandringham Street, off Fishergate, is being wound down by its owner Jim Helsby.

In a post on the store’s Facebook page Jim explained his decision, under the headline Confessions of a Beershop Owner:

I’m approaching pension age, and have decided that after 32 years, it’s time to call it a day.

Hence, over the course of the next few weeks York Beer and Wine Shop will be winding down operations in preparation for closure.

The one element of good news is that there will be bargains to be had. New Zealand wine are reduced by 10-15%, and beer gift packs by 20%.

Nothing else like it

Jim with some of his liquid wares. Photograph: York Beer and Wine Shop on Facebook

It was 1985 when two devotees of real ale decided to take a punt on opening a shop devoted to the bottled wares of Britain’s burgeoning number of small and independent breweries.

Jim and his friend Eric Boyd worked together in the pathology laboratory at York District Hospital before the York Beer Shop, as it was then known, became their biggest experiment.

With bottled beer from the four corners of Britain – and many far flung places overseas – plus draft ale pulled direct from the shop’s own bar into four pint jugs, it was like no other shop. Its pioneering approach inspired the many specialist off licences that followed its pioneering path.

Much of the stock has always been sourced by the owners travelling across the country, visiting breweries and dairies and returning to York with their booty.

Amongst its many accolades, York Beer and Wine Shop made the Good Beer Guide for 14 consecutive years, and was named as one of Rick Stein’s Food Heroes.

It was twice a finalist in the Independent Beer Retailer of the Year awards in London, and featured among the Independent‘s 50 Best Cheese Shops in Britain.

Eric and Jim are two of the most knowledgeable people in their field. We can only echo the sentiments of customer Nathan Helsby who reacted with the words: “Say it ain’t so!”

It is likely that the building will be sold, most probably to be converted into housing.