New growth landscaping

New growth landscaping

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New growth landscaping established in 2018 was devoted to vita-shaped plants. The circle of life gives us a natural balance.

Founded in 1936 and still rooted in St. Louis traditions, Ruffini Imports and Wine Merchants is a family-run, full service Italian wine and gift shop with an emphasis on fine Italian wines.

Named in honor of Guido Ruffini, owner of the company from 1966 until his retirement in 1996, the store is located on Fountain Square, the heart of the revitalized North City area.

Guido started the store in 1936 and over the years he ran it with a passion for wine, food, and fine craftsmanship, and passing the store on to his sons. Both his sons are involved in the business. Paolo is responsible for the liquor selection, while Dino runs the gift shop.

Guido and Dino have a special connection with the Fountain Square community and have been active in the community for many years. A special deal was set up with the Basilica when we were very busy one winter selling Italian food and wine. They agreed to sell us a specific quantity of their wine for 15 percent off. The Basilica is now a key part of our business and they bring in huge crowds of Italians every summer.

I got started selling wine when I went to college in St. Louis. I went into business with a friend, Tim McDuff, who was an intern for an importer at the time. We decided to take a risk and open a wine shop on the south side of St. Louis.

We started out with wine in the basement of a furniture store. We did not have any product to display so we spread out merchandise on the floor.As we grew, we were required to find new locations, and eventually we moved into a large factory building at the corner of Calumet and Natural Bridge.

At first we sold all kinds of wine, but eventually I focused on Italian wine. We carried Italian food and wine together. We also sold the products of California wine-making, because California wine was in its heyday.

In 1973, Guido died of a heart attack and the store closed. He left a lot of free time for us and we opened a store in suburban Clayton, but the chain failed to take off. There were just too many like us and it was easier for distributors to reach into St. Louis.

I ran the wine business until 1981 when we decided to expand our business into something bigger. I hired three people to take care of the gift shop, and together we had three stores. That turned out to be a mistake. My partners did not share my desire to sell wine and grew weary of working all day to make the store profitable. So we had a falling-out, and I ran the wine business alone.

I started selling Spanish wine about then because I found Spanish wine producers like the Montilla, the Garnacha, and the Rueda. And I discovered a large untapped market in California, particularly the North Coast. California was the rage of the 1980s and our customer base increased dramatically.

In 1991, I sold our St. Louis wine business to a distributor. In 1996, I was tired of running the wine business alone. It was time for a change. I decided to sell the wine business and the company was sold to Tim McDuff.

Tim and I had known each other for years and we formed a company called Upper Hand Wine &, Gift, but he left the business to pursue a career in high finance. I was determined to buy the wine business back, and I had been looking at business opportunities that were interesting to me. The folks who own this store were willing to sell. I was ready to buy again.

My father-in-law bought me out, and I called it Ruffini Imports and Wine Merchants. I continued to grow the business. In 1996, I hired Dino to help with the gift shop and gave Paolo responsibility for the wine department.

Guido had been Italian, and he took pride in the store and the wines we carried. Now I had the advantage of being Italian, my father was from Napoli, I had studied wine, and I loved wine.

In 2004, the food and wine business became my main focus and we had a huge expansion. In 2008, we opened a second store in north St. Louis. This store became our flagship store, and we continued to grow. Today, we have two retail stores, a wholesale operation, and five delivery trucks.

Our wholesale operation takes care of the store's wine inventory and we have a small distribution in the St. Louis area. Our whole operation has been successful, and our wine prices are competitive with anyplace you go.

When we are busy, we can fit 500 customers in the store at a time. We are known for the quality of our wine and products. We do have some fun in our store. Paolo, who is responsible for the wine, will carry a great bottle of wine, wine store, a good cigar, or a soft toy as a joke. He likes to add some texture to the customer experience.

Paolo has trained a team of professionals who work for him. They get serious about their product knowledge. Their customer service is just great. They take the time to know what people want to see or eat. The staff here has really embraced the Fountain Square community and are there to support it.

The fact that we are located at Fountain Square is not only special to us, but it is important to our community.

In 2010, we helped to found the American Italian Committee of St. Louis to promote Italian art and culture in the St. Louis community. We also try to support the local charities that are important to our community.

Every month, we do something that celebrates an Italian event.We participate in the Italian parade and try to meet the chefs and winemakers who are celebrating a milestone, such as hitting a sale, a great vintage year, or a record wine yield. We also have events with some of the country's great chefs. Some of them are Marco Pierre White, Maurizio Trulli, and