Sheri Gramer, the owner of Yarrow Acres, is the last of the six merchants who founded an event, Wine Down Main benefitting the Boys and Girls Club of Middle Tennessee, which became a Main Street tradition.
Gramer, along with Jan Erickson, Barbara Kurland, the late Janice Swartz, Faye Snodgrass Tevebaugh and Peggy Smith were looking for an event to bring people to Main Street.
“When we first started, you could step out onto [Main] Street, look both ways and not see anybody,” Gramer said. “The premise was to get people downtown.”
They hired a public relations firm owned by former Franklin residents Phyllis and the late Mike Hyland to help the group develop an event. The idea of a progressive wine tasting was borrowed from a similar event in which the Hylands participated while visiting Sonoma, Calif., a few years earlier.
A lot has changed over the past 16 years, and the event has grown to become a much-anticipated fundraiser in Franklin.
“Our lives have all changed,” Gramer said.
Some of the founders have since retired, moved on to different ventures and one passed away.
At that time, there were fewer retail merchants along Main Street.
Because they were fewer in number then, retailers along Main Street were a close bunch.
“We used to go out to breakfast every morning as merchants to brainstorm,” Gramer said. “I was the youngster of the group then, and I was so grateful they counted me in. We all wanted diversity in the goods we offered."
The merchants no longer get together for breakfast but Gramer believes the merchants still provide a unique variety of goods and more of the businesses are lasting longer than in the past.
As Main Street has changed, so has Wine Down Main Street.
“It used to be a little social stroll down Main Street, now it is a big event,” Gramer said.
At the first Wine Down Main, tickets sales were capped at 500, and organizers were skeptical they would sell that many. Tickets were sold out two weeks prior to the event.
Now the number of tickets sold number in the thousands and VIP and premium tickets are available to provide a next level experience.
The original tickets were sold at the PR firm but after the first couple years, the merchants took over ticket sales making them available in their shops.
“The Boys & Girls Club took over ticket sales and people buy them online rather than stop in the stores,” Gramer said.
Now with more merchants along Main Street, there are more tasting stops and a lot more wine, Gramer said.
“We joked about someday having a beer tasting event,” Gramer said.
Little did they know ....