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The last day: Dinkytown Wine & Spirits shutters after 30 years

Students and regular customers crowded in the popular liquor store on its final day open to say goodbye to the owners and the store’s legacy.
Jake and Maggie, former students at the University of Minnesota, check out one last time at the Dinkytown Wine and Spirits on Saturday, Jan. 9. “I am going to miss the deals and the people here, truly an experience, and I hope for the best for the owners.”

Adrianne Carter, a customer of 15 years, spent nearly an hour in Dinkytown Wine & Spirits on its last day open to say heartfelt goodbyes to the staff.

Carter said she first accidentally wandered into the store years ago to get to the Subway that used to be located in the building. Since then, she has been a regular customer, even when she was taking care of her father in his final months.

“He loved Samuel Adams Cherry [Wheat], and so [Dinkytown Wine & Spirits] ordered two cases. And I picked it up, they called me and made sure it was all right,” Carter said. “They just feel like family and I’m going to miss them. I really am. And my dad was so happy, they really made his last month.”

After a week of regulars flocking to the store to stock up on alcohol and say their final goodbyes, Dinkytown Wine & Spirits shut its doors for the last time on Jan. 9.

A developer bought the land under the liquor store, McDonald’s and multiple other businesses, setting off multiple closures in preparation for construction. McDonald’s is expected to reopen within a year or two in the same location as part of the new development, but Dinkytown Wine & Spirits is closing down for good.

“Here is a community store,” owner Irv Hershkovitz said. “We have a small footprint compared to these big 20,000 square feet superstores, but [if] we know we have a regular customer who wants a pint of watermelon New Amsterdam, then we put that in for him.”

Hershkovitz said besides getting to know regular student customers, he often sponsored fraternity fundraisers and other University-affiliated events throughout his decades in Dinkytown. Hershkovitz also previously owned Fowl Play, a bar that closed in 1999 and was located near one of the fraternity houses.

“[The fraternity members] would always come in and grab me at bar close and go, ‘Come on over and have a beer.’ And when one year someone walked in and said, ‘Whose dad are you?’ I said, ‘I’m done, I’m not coming here anymore,’” Hershkovitz said with a laugh.

For many University of Minnesota students, the liquor store is a staple. Third-year student Mattea Schubert came by for her first time on the last day.

“It seems like a very important and nostalgic part of the U,” Schubert said. “[I] wanted to come be a part of it.”

Dinkytown Wine & Spirits opened in 1990. On the last day of business, Hershkovitz and his wife Kate Endt greeted customers — some who he has sold to for the past 30 years — with easy conversation and, occasionally, tears in their eyes.

“I’m going to miss the regular customers, the people, right? And Irv,” said Tammy Henry, an employee of over 20 years.

Hershkovitz said the store has received an enormous influx of customers during its last week, some buying as much alcohol as they could carry in a show of appreciation for the store and its staff.

“I have to leave, because I start to cry,” Hershkovitz said. “It’s not just the community, it’s people who graduated 30 years ago. I had a kid come in yesterday who bartended for me in 1981, and we had to come down to say goodbye.”

Hershkovitz and his wife are planning to buy some commercial buildings in Minneapolis and Naples, Florida, but will no longer be a part of Dinkytown.

Hershkovitz said selling the liquor store to developers has been on the table for years, but this time, at 68 years old, he decided to retire and move on.

“I thought it would be good for the area and good for us,” Hershkovitz said. “And I’m tired of working seven days a week.”

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