This coming holiday season, WaterMark Corners (1500 River Drive, Moline) and its co-owner Amy Trimble have extra reasons to celebrate.
Their 23rd-annual Holiday Open House, will for the first time be split into four days (to be more COVID safe), Nov. 10-13. Hours will be 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and 4-7 p.m. Friday, with store specials (all day all four days), free stationery giveaway, live music and drink specials. The Quad Cities Chamber will have a ribbon cutting for the new Corner Bar, on Thursday, Nov. 11 at 4 p.m. Masks must be worn inside the store at all times, except when eating and drinking.
They’re also coordinated with Moline Centre’s Holiday Hop Friday and Saturday nights.
In addition to many items being 10% off during the open house, the store will offer $10 in “WaterMark” cash for every $50 in purchases from Nov. 10-13, and that can be used for any purchases Dec. 1-24. “That’s been hugely popular; we’ve done that for years,” Trimble said this week.
She worked with their Chicago-based business coach last January on annual changes to make to the gifts and stationery store (such as what kind of things to stock), after looking at sales data and what went well the previous year.
“I kept remember thinking, coming out of COVID, I want to fill the store with people having fun,” Trimble said. “I kept coming back to our open house night, thinking of everyone having fun, drinking wine. I kept thinking, how do we do that more often?”
“The answer was, put a bar in the store, rather than always having a caterer coming in,” she said. It’s a natural way to expand the experience of having fun while you’re shopping.
For the new Corner Bar area, they added tables and chairs, and closed off a former stairway upstairs, which before 2007 was another part of the store and has been since leased to other businesses. There’s now a refrigerator, sink and bar area in a small kitchen type setup – with several glasses and liquor bottles on display.
Blackhawk Builders, which did the original renovation of the historic building for the gift shop, also did the bar renovation work.
Trimble wanted a bar focusing on alcohol, instead of a coffee bar addition since Dead Poets Espresso is a stone’s throw from the store. “We had a coffee bar the first six years we were open upstairs, with a whole gourmet coffee section,” she said. “We had cappuccinos and espressos and then Dead Poets opened, and we let them do that. They’re amazing at it. And we already caried entertaining things related to drinks,” such as many kinds of funny coasters.
The wine and beer will be perfect to complement women out shopping, and the bar offers a place for their husbands or boyfriends to park while they shop. Watermark had a soft bar opening about two weeks ago.
The business worked with the city of Moline last February to get a new kind of liquor license that allows them to sell by the glass or bottle, Trimble said. Previously, the city didn’t have an option to do both.
She’s hired two bartenders (including Jeff Adamson), and they specialize in wines that you can’t find at other local businesses. Beer to be sold includes local favorites Front Street (Davenport) and Bent River (Moline).
“I want to really specialize in the area ones,” Trimble said. “I want to see what our customers want – do they want IPAs? Of course, we’ll expand to whatever they’re asking for.”
The bar menu includes:
- Prosecco, white, rose, and red wines
- Beers, sodas and cider
- Cocktails like mimosa, Old Fashioned, margarita, root beer float, gin and tonic, tequila, and rum and Coke
- Frozen cocktail slushies and snack crackers
WaterMark arranged to get bagged cocktail mixes, with a private label, that people can buy and make without a blender. The frozen drinks are mixed, and put in a freezer overnight. “We sell the mixes and we can also do them here and offer them as a flight,” Trimble said.
The QC Old Fashioned is made with cherry bourbon, she said. Customers can also buy the mixes from the website, www.watermarkcorners.com. The store includes many varieties of wines by the bottle, and cocktail mixers.
The poured wine and beer can be served during regular store hours, while the cocktails and other mixed drinks will be available Friday noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Starting next week, Jeff Adamson will be serving Wednesdays and Thursdays.
After Christmas, Trimble may re-evaluate the bar hours. “This is a whole new business; we just have to see what our customers want,” she said. “It’s also gonna enable us to do special events.”
Starting in January, she wants to do tastings, game nights and host groups. In December, they’ll have a holiday happy hour every Thursday (4-6 p.m.) with drink specials, and after Christmas, have more themed events, Trimble said.
“What really excited me about this was, the bar gave us an opportunity to be open evenings,” she said. “That’s my goal, by next year, to be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday at least until 8.”
Currently, WaterMark is open 10 to 5 Monday to Thursday, and 10 to 6 Friday and Saturday. In evenings, they may be able to host private parties, Trimble said.
“We’ve had women say, my investment club, I’d love to meet there,” she said, noting they’ve done private hopping events before, but not with the bar. “We’ll just see how it works.”
“It’s very exciting; I always look for the new, what’s next in this business,” Trimble said. “It’s very different than when we opened 23 years ago. Nothing is the same here, except the arches and the ceilings. Especially with retail, you have to change and grow.
“We needed something exciting, something to celebrate,” she said. “We needed a reason to celebrate and get together with friends. Hopefully, people see this as a safe environment. It’s not a packed bar.”