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Facing High Rents, Quad-Area Wine Shop to Move Next Door

The University Wine Shop, located on Massachusetts Avenue, will soon move to new premises.
The University Wine Shop, located on Massachusetts Avenue, will soon move to new premises. By Megan M. Ross
By Alison W. Steinbach, Crimson Staff Writer

University Wine Shop, a favorite stop for party hosts in the Quad, will be moving one door down in November after high rents pushed the business out of its current location.

The neighborhood wine, beer, and spirits shop has occupied its 1739 Mass. Ave storefront—located between Harvard Square and Porter Square, a convenient location for Quad-dwellers—for 30 years. Facing increasing rents at this spot, longtime owner Paul DeRuzzo made arrangements to move next door to 1737 Mass. Ave.

That storefront is currently occupied by boutique store Irish Imports, which will close this fall when its owner retires after 44 years in business.

DeRuzzo said the management company that oversees the rent had been raising rents to the point where his shop could no longer survive. The property is owned by a trust and managed by Newton-based retail firm Myer Dana and Sons.

“We’d hoped for a little more goodwill,” DeRuzzo said. “We negotiated with the management company that manages the building, and it’s somebody that we’ve known for a long time, but they seemed to think the rent here was a lot higher than it should be.”

Representatives from Myer Dana and Sons did not respond to requests for comments.

DeRuzzo said he did “all the legwork” up and down Mass. Ave to learn the average rents, but that Myer Dana wasn't persuaded to lower his rent. After DeRuzzo decided to move, the management company advertised the rent at $65 per square foot per year—almost double the rent paid by other businesses along the street, he said.

“We were going to be boxed into a corner if we didn’t make other arrangements. It’s unfortunate, but it’s what we ended up having to do,” DeRuzzo said. “Either we would have to move or go out of business.”

Lucky for loyal customers, though, University Wine Shop plans to move—just 15 yards away, but incidentally in a new zip code—over the weekend after Thanksgiving, when business tends to be slower. Despite the costs and logistical challenges of the move, DeRuzzo said there’s a silver lining.

“We’ve been in here for 30 years now and it’s been the same building and the same setup, so it’s going to be kind of like having a new store, trying to freshen things up a little bit,” he said. “Our customers won’t be walking in and seeing the same stale four walls they’ve been looking at for 30 years, so there is some good news about it too.”

—Staff writer Alison W. Steinbach can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @alisteinbach.

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