Milwaukee Vodka Maker Moving to Walker’s Point
Great Lakes Distillery, Milwaukee’s local vodka distiller, is moving their operations from Capital and Holton to 616 W Virginia St in The Tannery complex of buildings.
This has been picked up by a lot of other sources (including the JS, The Daily Reporter, RNN, and the Business Journal) so I’m not going to bore you with details on what it includes, but the tours sound great. I’m more concerned with what it means for the city.
Guy Rehorst wanted more space, and he could have went anywhere in the metro-area and still called got away with calling it Milwaukee’s vodka. He chose to stay in urban Milwaukee though. Why?
I haven’t talked to him directly, but here’s a couple guesses. It’s nice being close to your customers. It’s also a plus when you’re located by a Harley museum to generate a steady stream of customers for your tours. Being in a historic tannery building feels cool too, one could imagine.
Every time you sip Rehorst compared to Absolut more money is staying in Milwaukee. Same with Lakefront, Water Street, and Alehouse beers vs Budweiser (and yes, even Miller). So while none of these distilleries create massive amounts of jobs, they keep wealth from leaving the city, and hopefully long-term bring wealth in (as they ultimately sell outside 124th Street).
They also have this huge marketability asset that makes all of them being so close together so great. They’re great places to go. Now Guy’s tour is not running yet, but I imagine it’ll be something people talk about. It’s yet one more thing for people to do in urban Milwaukee (see: Fonz statue) that isn’t enough to draw people to come here on their own, but adds to a mixing pot of great things that make Milwaukee special compared to somewhere huge like Atlanta or small like Janesville.
Milwaukee is a great place to be and with entrepreneurs like Guy Rehorst, isn’t anywhere close to losing it’s alcohol heritage, even with Miller moving to Chicago or Dallas (yeah, I said it).