By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Sam Aceti shows a visitor a thick stack of letters he's received over the last 10 years he's been in business with Aceti's Wine & Spirits. Each one is a request for a donation to a charitable cause. They come from nonprofit organizations and foundations.
Minutes later, his conversation with his visitor is interrupted as he takes a phone call: It's someone asking for a donation for a school fundraiser. They're having a meat raffle and wonder if Aceti could donate some wine.
"Sure, I can," he tells the caller without hesitation, and he works out the details in a matter of minutes.
There goes two more boxes.
The hundreds of donations he's made illustrate one of his core business beliefs.
"I'm a true believer that one hand washes the other," he explained. "So our focus was any business that we did has to be on the Island."
"I've got to support Grand Island. They're supporting me, I'm supporting them."
To celebrate 10 years in business, Aceti wondered how he could give back to the Island when he's given so much to begin with. His wife Kim's answer was to give his loyal customers a party.
Aceti's, 2156 Grand Island Blvd. in the Tops Plaza, will do just that, holding a 10th anniversary celebration from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 2. The event will include a wine tasting from 4 to 8 p.m., gift baskets and raffles, and store discounts throughout the aisles.
Aceti was in the sports entertainment industry for 15 years. At one point he was offered a job in Arizona, building an arena and convention center, but decided against moving. He decided to pursue an ambition of owning his own business, so he put together four business plans over the course of eight months. Wine and spirits "made the most sense," he said.
"Putting all the numbers together, it made all the sense in the world."
Four different banks refused his requests for a loan. The fifth said yes.
"And that's when we moved here in October of 2010, and we've been here ever since," he said.
"I've got to say, I've never been so humbled in my life as I am by these people on Grand Island," Aceti said of opening in business on the Island 10 years ago. "The support was phenomenal. I can't believe the support."
Aceti shows his visitor another stack of papers. It's full of customer requests, 41 pages at last count, for hard-to-find wines, or special spirits. Aceti goes the extra mile to find what his patrons want. This stack of papers, like the other stack, illustrates another Aceti belief: fight for your customers.
"That's how I built my customer base, not by my suppliers, not by my sales people, by my customers," he said.