The Best Place Vintage Gift Shop opened Saturday in the former Pabst gift shop in The Brewery complex at 901 W. Juneau Ave. in downtown Milwaukee.
The gift shop is part of the Best Place complex in the former Pabst brewery that is owned by Jim Haertel and other investors. The Best Place complex includes the former Pabst gift shop, Blue Ribbon Hall, visitor’s center and corporate offices. Best Place is named after the original founder of the brewery, Jacob Best, Sr.
The rest of the former Pabst brewery is being redeveloped by Zilber Ltd. founder Joseph Zilber into a mixed-use urban neighborhood.
Most of the items sold at the new gift shop are items recovered from the Pabst brewery.
“Over 80 percent of our merchandise was recovered from the former Pabst Brewery, largely left behind when Pabst closed in December of 1996,” Haertel said. “For those items purchased, we provide a special Pabst card designating, ‘Authentic Item-Recovered from the Historic Pabst Brewery.'”
Examples of the merchandise available, while they last, include beer mirrors, Pabst patches, ponchos, beer glasses, cancelled stock certificates, coasters, including Schlitz, Blatz and Hamm’s brands and more. Haertel also is displaying items from his own collection.
“We also have 20 percent devoted to new items to round out our selection,” said Suzanne Ehlke, director of sales and marketing for the gift shop. “T-shirts and hats. But for the holidays, we have beer-themed ornaments, fancy steins and gift cards, too.”
Haertel and Paul Bertling originally obtained the accepted offer to purchase the former Pabst Brewery on Sept. 11, 2001.
“We acquired a lot of stuff, we are keeping one of everything and selling what’s left,” Haertel said.
Plans to have a Hofbrauhaus beer hall and restaurant occupy Blue Ribbon Hall have fallen through. However, Haertel is hosting group events and tours at the facility and plans to open a pub in the former visitor’s center area. Eventually Blue Ribbon Hall may be used for a restaurant, he said.