Owner addresses desire by village officials to include convenience store downtown
When Hertejvir Singh came up with the concept of opening a liquor store in Grafton last summer, he never envisioned the project would involve so many twists and turns.
After gaining approval from the village last August, Singh anticipated a quick turnaround and a September opening. That date was pushed back to December, and then into 2017.
Still, the months of delays and unforeseen complications will culminate next month with the opening of The Bottle Shop of Grafton at 1237 12th Ave.
“My intention was to bring a store to downtown Grafton that offered beer, wine, liquor and tobacco products,” said Singh, whose nickname is Tej.
“It was the village officials who asked that I include a convenience store, and it makes sense because there is no place in the downtown where you can walk to and pick up grocery items.”
Singh said his drinks of choice are bourbon and scotch, adding, “but I am learning a lot about wine and beer now.”
Plans for the 4,000-square-foot retail shop call for a section dedicated to highly rated wines, along with a walk-in cooler for other beverages and a humidor for cigars.
Plans submitted to the village note that about 20% of the floor space will be dedicated to “packaged miscellaneous foods and beverages (chips, snacks, candy, soda, etc.),” as well as such grocery staples as ice and lottery tickets.
Up until about a year ago, the location was known as the LaBudde building. That business has relocated to Cedarburg.
The history of the building was just one of the complicating factors.
“You never know what you are going to find when you start working on a 127-year-old building,” Singh said.
To transform the former office space into a retail setting, a load-bearing wall had to be removed and considerable interior renovation done.
That included working with We Energies to relocate an electrical transformer so that upgraded service could be brought into the building. The transformer will also enhance electrical capacity for other downtown businesses.
The building design was done by Rld Architecture & Construction, a Grafton firm.
“Dick Daehnert from Rld heard about the project and approached me, saying he would like to work on the design,” Singh said.
“That is the kind of thing we want to do, work with local businesses and become part of the community. Just yesterday I joined the Grafton Chamber of Commerce.”
Although retailing is in his family — they used to run a gas station/convenience store in Sturtevant — Singh graduated from Marquette University in 2014 with a degree in biomedical engineering.
He worked for General Electric in Madison before moving back to the area, taking positions as a process engineer with Astronautics Corp. and then as a manufacturing engineer with Milwaukee Electronics.
Although Singh enjoys the challenges of his engineering work, he said he missed the retail sector and partnered with his family to open a shop that specializes in wine and beer.
“I was searching on the Internet for ideas about liquor stores, and I saw the name bottle shop as a general reference to liquor stores,” he said.
“That name stuck with me, and my friends all said they liked it, too.”
As a construction crew continues to work feverishly to get the store ready, Singh laughed when asked whether he has pitched in.
“I am still an engineer. I prefer to leave that kind of work to the professionals,” he said.
Singh said he plans to be a regular at the store but it will be managed by his family. His parents are partners in the enterprise.
A grand opening is planned for Thursday, March 9, highlighted by a wine sampling.
Image Information: HERTEJVIR SINGH IS anxiously awaiting the opening of his new downtown business, The Bottle Shop of Grafton. Retrofitting the former office building for retail use took quite bit longer than expected. Photo by Mark Jaeger