The Anthracite region was created from a rich melting pot of many ethnic groups all living together and sharing various cultural heritages with a common goal of making a better life for their families. One family in Mount Carmel that has made its mark in local business over the years and continues to keep those “Old World Traditions” alive in a modern way is Catino’s. Art Catino and his wife Maria continue to be major contributors to the Mt have a peek at this web-site. Carmel downtown; now owning two store fronts and maintaining several other lots along Oak Street. Wine making by Italian families locally became a time honored tradition in this little coal town and Art carries on that tradition today.
One need only stroll along Oak Street on any given day to see the pride and joy the Catinos take in their businesses. The store fronts owned by them are painstakingly maintained with brightly splashed fresh paint and well defined trim work giving a blend of architectural design with vibrant colors. These buildings are home to 3 distinct businesses owned by Art and his wife including a candy store specialty shop, Soupie supplies (Old World Italian specialty meats), and his newest venture wine making supplies. The wine juices from California and imported Italian grape juices are a nice compliment to the Italian meat delicacies he offers next door. Catino’s has nearly anything imaginable needed to make wines from the crushed grape, to juice, to fruity accents for those wine lovers who like a slightly sweeter and less alcoholic beverage.
I had an opportunity to sit down with Art the other day to discuss his latest venture which is “Catino Vino”. Art told me his entrance into the wine making business was 6 years ago when he first got his feet wet but was not without its challenges. He learned early on the key to success in any business is the supplier. “You can only be as good as your supplier.” Trusted words of wisdom from one of Mt. Carmel’s foremost entrepreneurs. “How can you do business if you can’t rely on the supplier?”
Art explained that an old timer in Shamokin would go to Philadelphia and bring back grapes and buckets of juice from the suppliers. However, he passed away years ago leaving a vacuum and demand by local wine makers for more product. The loss of a key supplier locally opened the door for Catino’s to enter into the wine making world. So as time passed many of his soupie and Italian delicacies customers began calling on him to possibly begin supplying grapes, juice, and wine supplies.
Like any seasoned businessman he started out small picking up buckets of grape juice and various supplies a little at a time testing the waters and determining demand. He began taking orders and in between operating his well-known Bloomsburg Fair food stand in late September, he also began making juice runs to Philadelphia. The first year was not without its obstacles and hurdles as his early suppliers did not always hold back product for Art’s purchase orders.
A particularly memorable experience during his early years, that he shared, started out with him and his brother-in-law heading to Philly early one September morning to pick up product. As he pulled in he saw no activity at the supply house. Generally this is not a good sign at a major distributor of wine juices especially during the peak of the grape season. So with more than a little in trepidation Art walked into the building and saw no one around. Suddenly, the owner burst out of one of the coolers not giving Art a second glance. Art shouted “I’m here to pick up my wine juice.”
Without missing a beat the owner kept shuffling on past Art and said “I am all out of juice come back next year!”
Now Art faced one of the most brutal things in business, he had to start calling potentially new customers to tell them he didn’t have any juice for them. Art relayed to me with a furrow brow that he felt he was done before he ever got started in the wine business. Then out of the blue he got a call from an old friend from Chicago asking how the wine business was working out for him. Art explained his dilemma and ended the call with he didn’t think the wine making business was going to succeed.
Well as lady luck was looking down on Art, she was also smiling because his friend in Chicago thought he might be able to direct him to a reliable supplier in New Jersey. Art called the new supplier and explained his situation leaving out no details, and to his delight a business deal was struck. The New Jersey dealer has become a reliable supplier and each year Art has grown his wine business adding to the line of supplies he offers at “Catino Vino” on Oak Street in Mt. Carmel.
Currently, furnishing wine making supplies throughout Northeast and Central Pennsylvania Catino Vino has become synonymous with excellence in wine making. As wine season begins in early September with California shipments arriving Catino’s gears up fully including teaching wine making classes to perspective customers. A true artisan, Art shares his passion for wine making by teaching others while continually expanding his own knowledge in the wine making process.
Whether you are an amateur, first time winemaker, or an old world traditionalist, Art has everything you need to make a variety of wines including California, Italian, and Chilean juices. By early October he usually has 100 or more people attend his wine classes, and Art’s simple philosophy “Let’s keep it as easy as the Romans did it.”
As the wine season winds down Soupie season winds up in early November continuing on through the New Year, and late winter. Keeping the Catinos extremely busy during these seasonal occasions for product demand.
Art Catino and his wife have great pride in all aspects of their business and add measurable value to Mt. Carmel’s downtown. Not as vibrant as it once was, it is folks like the Catinos that are making a difference keeping both old world traditions and the Mt. Carmel downtown alive and well.
Whether you are a regular customer or just back in the Coal Region for a visit do not miss the opportunity to come and see the Catino’s row of shops. And if you are lucky enough perhaps Art will uncork a bottle of some good homemade vino, share a glass and entertain you with one of his many stories on life, business, or philosophy. Because like all good entrepreneurs he is also a great story teller.
Author: Steve Bartos
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