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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Business: NOTL wine tour company teams with Costco to expand reach
Grape Escape Wine Tours owner Richard Mell with one of the gift cards now available at Costco. SARAH LAUGHTON

A Niagara-on-the-Lake wine tour operator is teaming up with Costco to market its business across southern Ontario.

Grape Escape Wine Tours in Virgil will have gift cards available at seven Costco locations in the province, including Mississauga, Newmarket, Barrie, Barrhaven, Kanata, Burlington and Lancaster.

“Costco reached out to us wanting to diversify their card selection in their stores and they wanted us as the wine tour representative,” said Richard Mell, co-owner of Grape Escape.

He said his company is proud to have been recognized by such a large, powerful retailer.

Mell specifically aimed the gift card idea at people within driving distance of NOTL.

During the three-month process, Mell learned more about retailing physical gift cards apart from the store and working with a larger retail company, but said the overall process was rather straightforward.

Mell said from personal experience he’s seen an increase in the giving of experiential gifts, so he hopes his idea will be a success, but said it’s difficult to estimate their popularity in the future.

“I think it’s exciting, personally, to hopefully reach other people that maybe might not know about us,” he said.

The gift vouchers can be used for vehicle tours, bicycle tours and the company’s escape room attraction.

Alongside his business, Mell is one of 13 vying for a seat on the council in the upcoming fall election.