The Great Escape considering up to six Wisconsin locations

Waukesha would be state headquarters

Master Z's.

Home entertainment retailer The Great Escape plans to open up to six stores in Wisconsin, with the Master Z’s location in Waukesha serving as the state headquarters.

Master Z's.
The Waukesha Master Z’s headquarters.

BizTimes was the first to report on Dec. 29 that South Holland, Illinois-based The Great Escape plans to acquire Master Z’s.

At a Jan. 9 Waukesha Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, board members approved a zoning variance for a planned 25,000-square-foot expansion that is expected to pave the way for the deal to close.

Master Z’s owner Jim Lindenberg and The Great Escape president Marc Rush made their case for the variance to the board at the meeting. The retailer’s plans to keep the Wisconsin headquarters in Waukesha helped convince the board members to approve the variance.

The Great Escape plans to open at least two stores in addition to the Master Z’s acquisition, Rush told the board.

“One store is not what we’re coming to Milwaukee for,” he said. “We don’t open a store in each state. We usually open two to six stores in each state.”

Lindenberg welcomed the board’s approval of the variance.

“That’s good news, that’s the first major step, and now the due diligence is taking place,” he said.

Lindenberg said the acquisition is expected to be completed within two months. The Great Escape would keep the Master Z’s name, as well as its other location at Bayshore Town Center in Glendale, in the integration, he said.

Master Z’s has 12 full-time and four part-time employees, all of whom would be kept on by The Great Escape, which also has plans to add more salespeople once the addition is completed, Lindenberg said.

“(The Great Escape was) coming into Wisconsin and they had picked Brookfield and they’re a national retailer with 26 stores and they have great mindpower; they have a great reputation,” Lindenberg said. “So I didn’t want to compete with a big national chain, but more important than that is they provide better benefits, better profit sharing, better opportunities for the people (who work at Master Z’s.)”

Lindenberg would exit the business in the transaction. A serial entrepreneur, he isn’t worried about finding his next passion project.

“I will be a free agent for the first time. I was always jumping to something,” he said. “I have no immediate plans, so I’m going to see who calls.”

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