Making Connections: Josh Villapando
If you’ve ever been to the 7th Street Market in Uptown Charlotte, you’ve surely seen Josh Villapando working the counter at the Assorted Table Wine Shoppe. I first met Josh when he worked at the Common Market and over the years we’ve become friends. We have done a number of events with him including The Language Academy’s 10th anniversary party in 2014. As we are both small business owners, we often bond over the challenges of owning your own business and I try to support his shop as much as I can. He has great products, great prices, and he knows what his customers like. In June we are hosting both a French and a Spanish wine tasting at his store. More details here:
I recently sent Josh some questions and his answers appear below. I had no idea that he could breakdance!
You have worked in food and beverage for a long time. Can you tell us a little about your background?
My parents are Filipino immigrants that moved to the States to flee Martial Law. I was born and raised in Richmond, VA, and then moved to Denver, CO, Dallas, TX, and eventually Charlotte. My father was a Jesuit-trained theologian and my mother was a post-partum nurse. My parents made my sister and me eat a huge spectrum of foods from a variety of cultures, so I believe I have an advantage over others in the wine world in that regard. I fell in love with local business working for an Italian/latino restaurant in Littleton, CO called Angie’s. That’s where I started appreciating the relationship between food and wine. I’m the self-proclaimed local small-business culinary and wine poster-child as I’ve spent the last 2 decades working for Pasta & Provisions, Ilios Noche, Reid’s Fine Foods, and Common Market before being invited to open Assorted Table. I continue to have incredible mentors in former bosses and colleagues. My little sister, Lizelle, is a famous fashionista and the owner of Parts & Labour in Austin, TX, which exclusively supports Texas designers, artists, dress and bag makers, and jewelers. I love local. Making America Great Again starts with supporting local American business. Walk the talk.
When did the idea of becoming a Wine Merchant come in to the picture for you? Most kids don’t grow up thinking they want to own a wine shop.
Being a wine merchant is only a fraction of my intended business model and the beginning of what “Assorted Table” means. For the last 15 years, I flapped my gums about owning my own business. As time passed, several of my colleagues were wondering why I hadn’t already done so. I grew up thinking about being a radio pop musican/judge/youth group minister. Being a wine shoppe owner allowed me to incorporate many skills I already had and it allows me to share my passion with the guests that visit the shoppe.
What have you learned about being a small business owner since opening the Assorted Table?
*Anger and vengeance don’t make you money.
*Owning a business is the instant cure to procrastination. If you don’t handle the issue now, it will only get bigger later.
*Every employee is motivated/incentivized differently.
*There is no such thing as 110%. Giving 100% every day is almost impossible.
How much wine do you actually consume yourself? My guess is that it’s a lot less than people think.
I taste between 12-40 wines almost 5 days/week. I normally only consume wine with a meal and it’s gotta fit. Otherwise, beer. Maybe Booker’s bourbon.
I like how you merge your business with nerd culture in a fun way. How did that come about?
Assorted Table is a mash-up of MacGyver/Sanford & Son/Montessori education. Whether it’s wine, vermouth, bicycles, or Hot Wheels collectible cars, we’re able to educate the consumer about that product with great customer service. Because I’ve been in this industry for such a long time, I wanted to shake it up a little to maintain my own focus and to create a nerd-niche where wine enthusiasts AND Star Wars enthusiasts are welcome! Also, as the owner, I’m able to execute unusual events like a Star Wars vs. Star Trek Wine Dinner or McGyver themed Wine & Cheese Seminar.
What’s something we would be surprised to know about Josh Villapando?
I used to go to dance clubs and raves 3-4 nights/week to breakdance!
Craig Snyder is the Owner and President of The Language Academy of the Carolinas, Inc.