GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The Bay Center Complex on West Mason Street has been open with local businesses since 1963, and that includes the family-owned business Badger Liquor.
William Smits took over store management from the original owners in 1984, but his son, Ben, bought it from him in 2014 and has been the store owner ever since.
Ben Smits has kept the business flourishing over the years and made quite an impact on many within the community. Brent Ussher has been coming into the store for the last ten years and has formed a friendship with the owner.
“I know he cares about how I’m doing, and I care about how he’s doing,” said Ussher. “In the 40 years he’s been here, I’ve known him ten of it. I’ve got goosebumps talking about him leaving.”
He said that mom-and-pop shops are an important part of every community, and when you lose a place like the Badger Liquor store, it takes something away from that community.
Local 5’s Samantha Petters asked William Smits what it meant when his son took over the business. “I was ready for Ben to take over. I’d been working for 70 years, and it was time for me to retire,” said Smits. “I’m glad he took over the store.”
And now it’s time for the store to officially close its doors. The current owner said he got notified a few weeks ago that all of the current tenants had to move out by the end of the year.
“We thank you for your many years of patronage and loyalty. It has been a pleasure to serve you all for the last 40+ years,” stated Badger Liquor Store in a Facebook post. “Please continue to stop by, check out our inventory, and watch for items being marked down weekly!”
The owners said they are sad to see it close so soon but are thankful for their friends throughout the community who supported them over the years.
“I love what I do, and yeah, it’s gonna be tough,” said Ben Smits. “Everyone’s seen me since the mid 80’s being here, screwing around when I was a kid, and I get to close the place up, which actually means a lot to me that I’m actually going to get to see this place close up and I’m the one doing it.”