When she got into the beverage industry 30 years ago, Kim Lawson knew she didn’t want to be like anyone else. She didn’t want her store to be like any other store.
She had entered into the business with her role models — her father, Brad, and mother, Chris — who bought Fishpaws Marketplace in 1983. And she quickly worked to put her stamp on the shop.
“I wanted to have my own business,” she said. “I wanted to control my own destiny.”
The result is a place unlike any other liquor store in the area. While customers can depend on Fishpaws for its selection of wine, beer and spirits, they also come for the gourmet cheeses, fresh-baked baguettes and fun events.
“They also come for the educated staff, which Lawson employs. “All our managers are passionate about their specialty and have many years of combined experience in the food, beverage and hospitality industry,” she said.
One example of a fun event is Whiskey 101, coming to Fishpaws on September 25. Those who register can learn how whiskey is made, discover the different types and hear about the history of the barrel aging process.
For its next wine dinner on September 10 at La Posta Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen, Fishpaws will partner with guest speaker Gary Diamond of Empson USA, a leading importer of Italian and other fine wines worldwide.
“I think people like experiential things,” Lawson said. “They like to learn and be educated.”
Citing another event with a master distiller from Frederick, she said, “You actually talk to the person who makes the product and then you get to do it yourself. Every time we have a guest, I learn something.”
As for its own offerings, Fishpaws has domestic and European fine wines for all tastes and occasions, a diverse spirit selection and craft beers, microbrews, imports and all major beer brands. Near the alcohol is a tasting bar, which serves as a place where patrons can try gourmet cheeses and purchase samples of scotches, rums and bourbons.
While many customers visit Fishpaws Marketplace to get something, they often end up giving away something to support the charity of the month. Lawson said she picks each charity based on customer suggestions and the passion driving the request.
“They support us, so we should support them as well,” Lawson said of her customers. “There are a lot of people who are passionate about a cause.”
For two years, Fishpaws has partnered with Homestead Gardens to organize Corks For A Cause, a fundraiser to benefit the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center Foundation. Lawson said Fishpaws has donated roughly $10,000 to that cause each of the last two years while also giving another $10,000 a year in gift cards and bottles of wine to other nonprofits and community groups.
She’s also involved with the Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce and the Anne Arundel County Licensed Beverage Association, as both an officer and board member.
“This industry is ever-changing,” Lawson said. “You always have to modify, because people are always finding ideas on the internet.”
Lawson said seltzers and brown goods, like bourbons and whiskeys, are especially popular right now.
To find these or other items, or to attend an event at Fishpaws Marketplace, stop by 954 Ritchie Highway in Arnold, call 410-647-7363 or visit www.fishpawsmarket.com. Hours are 8:00am-8:00pm on Sunday, 8:00am-10:00pm on Monday and 7:00am-10:00pm Tuesday through Saturday. Fishpaws also delivers on orders $75 and over when given 24 hours of notice.