Located just off the George Washington Bridge, Fort Lee is
home to a diversity of cultures. Hudson Wine Market has effectively learned to
integrate itself into this unique community.
“I don’t think I realized that my
cultural background would play a role in our store,” explains owner Dr. H. Binn
Lee, M.D., “but after opening, I saw the unique make-up of this area and how we
could be a part of it.”
Born and raised in Seoul, Korea, Dr. Lee moved to the United States in 1970, continuing his career as an orthopedic surgeon until his retirement. Starting on a different path than most retirees, Dr. Lee made the unconventional decision to pursue his passion for wine, following the same meticulous and dedicated approach he had taken in his medical studies. After completing his advanced certificate at the International Wine Institute, he and his wife Bette took a more hands-on approach to his education, traveling through so many wine regions in Europe and the American continents, acquiring knowledge and contacts that would later serve him well during his creation of Hudson Wine Market.
A Surgeon’s Touch
Dr. Lee’s professional background is apparent in the store
design itself, which is approachable, clean and highly organized. The wide
selection of wine represents the major wine regions of the world, while a
temperature-controlled display cellar showcases an impressive number of premium
and specialty bottles.
Beyond the vast selection of wine and spirits, the second
half the store is designed to resolve a lack of storage. Dr. Lee split the
4,000 square-foot store into two, creating a second area to hold large pallets,
cases and magnum bottles. “Dr. Lee examined and took the concept of big-box
stores like Costco,” explains wine buyer Bobby Kumm. “The second space was
originally created for storage, but we have seen an increasing number of
customers coming in and buying in bulk.”
Catering to the Community
Hudson Wine Market offers a selection of products that are a
direct reflection of its diverse clientele.
“When we first began, we were
mostly focused on wine,” explains Dr. Lee. “But over the course of the years we
have recognized the demand for spirits.” Indeed, the significant Russian and
Jewish communities, among others in the area, have resulted in an impressive
offering of vodkas. And while the Asian spirits section of the store has
continued to grow, Dr. Lee notes that many of his Asian customers have been
showing the increasing interest in wine, in large part due to the newly
researched and professionally and non-professionally media reported health
benefits of wine consumption.
Dr. Lee offers wine classes for different groups
and gatherings, where he discusses these benefits as well as the necessary and utmost precautions that should be taken with alcohol.
Another popular aspect of the store is Dr. Lee’s aggressive
pricing policy – a practice that has seen increasingly positive results
following the creation of the store’s website, allowing it to greatly expand
its customer base.
Following the successful model of Hudson Wine Market, Dr.
Lee and his wife have also developed Riverside Wine Merchants, located south of
Edgewater at the Hudson River side across from Manhattan.
When asked about the
possibility of pursuing another venture, Dr. Lee simply laughs: “No, I don’t
think so. After all, I just want to enjoy my retirement, my time.”