“People crack up when they come in expecting bait
and tackle and see a bottle of Silver Oak.”
–Taylor Cash, owner, Taylor’s Fine Wine and Live Bait
by Jessie Ammons
photo by Travis Long
Twenty-seven years ago, Taylor Cash didn’t set out to sell live bait. And he certainly didn’t expect to sell fine wine. When he and his late wife Gail bought a little spot north of 540 on Six Forks Road, they planned to operate a gas station and simple convenience store stocked with “all the items you’d normally find there,” he says: Nabs, trail mix, Goody’s Powders. A little of this, some of that.
Turns out, the store’s location gave Cash a front-row seat to Raleigh’s growth and development, and he’s transformed his business to embrace it. It wasn’t long after he bought the store in 1980, for instance, that Falls Lake State Recreation Area opened to the public. In came boating supplies, fishing supplies, and live bait and tackle.
Then, around 2000, as Cash was closing the full-service lunch and breakfast grill he’d been operating at the store, he realized he needed another profit center. An idea sparked when a nearby big-name grocery store completed a renovation including a facelift to its wine aisle. “I thought, ‘daggone, they must sell a lot of wine,’” to warrant such a swanky setting, he says. So he talked to one of his convenience store vendors about bringing a few bottles in to “see how it would go … It grew from there. In a matter of years, it went from selling 15 wines to over 1,000.”
By now, the secret’s out, and Taylor’s Fine Wine and Live Bait is a North Raleigh destination. Along the way, local supporters like Larry Larson of Larry’s Beans coffee and various small-scale honey-makers have stocked Cash’s shelves (today there’s a
Taylor’s Blend of Larry’s Beans). “It’s become something of its own,” Cash says.
Also along the way, Cash, never much of a drinker, became a wine lover, and then a collector. Merging the old-school and modern luxury elements of his demographic remains one of the best parts of his job, he says. “People come in to get some hooks to go fishing, and then they see all this wine and coffee and all these things. I understand where they’re coming from, and it’s fun to introduce them.”
Meantime, he has no intent of doing away with the nightcrawlers. Sure, the wine operation is glamorous, but the fishing supply business is steady, and most everybody needs gas. “People know us for that, too. There’s something here for everybody.”
10005 Six Forks Road