Former Star Liquor employee plans to reopen storefront
MADISON, Wis. (WISC) — The loss of a store in a Madison neighborhood known for its support of local businesses is leaving a hole, but an area business owner hopes to fill the void.
After decades on Williamson Street, Star Liquor closed Tuesday. A post from the store’s Facebook page explains its owner since 1982 has been struggling with health problems.
The Willy Street neighborhood is used to the store’s lights being on and its door being open, so hearing Star Liquor is no more doesn’t go down easy for customers.
“They have a personal connection to the neighbors,” area resident Colleen Hayes said.
They say it means more to the community than just a place to buy liquor.
“A lot of the businesses on Willy Street are big supporters of the neighborhood,” Hayes said. “You don’t necessarily get that with big-box stores.”
“I feel a deep sorrow in my heart,” neighbor Peter Johnston said. “We can buy things on Amazon, but that’s not servicing the local people. I’d rather pay a couple extra bucks and buy things from people I know.”
“I don’t feel there’s any reason we should need to lose that, and we should fight for it,” former Star Liquor employee Josh Swentzel said.
Swentzel now owns Degoba on Atwood Avenue. He describes it as “more of a gift shop that happens to sell liquor.”
He’s also pouring himself into saving Star Liquor.
“It’s not your average liquor store,” Swentzel said. “You never felt like you were walking into a chain store, or a place that just wanted your money. We loved talking about wine, beer and spirits.”
Swentzel is working on leasing the Star Liquor storefront. He’s at the beginning of the neighborhood approval and city licensing process.
If all goes as planned, his store would be a separate business from the original Star Liquor, but he wants to keep the same look and feel, and hopefully the same name as well.
“There’s a lot of sentimental value for me, but those small shops in a neighborhood, they add to the greater internalized community itself,” he said. “That neighborhood is one of a kind.”
To help keep the spirit of the community alive, he wants to get Star Liquor’s lights back on and doors open as soon as possible.
“I think it’s great to bring it back. I like that idea,” Hayes said.
“I think it’s a fantastic thing,” Johnston said. “Hopefully it keeps it local.”
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