“Are they six-packs? Four-packs? Bombers? What?” Gus Georges, owner of newly opened Big House Liquor, is quizzing a customer who asked if he might consider carrying an obscure kind of beer. He’s happy to: “OK, you got it!” (A “bomber” is a twenty-two-ounce bottle. “They look like those bombs they dropped out of planes in World War II.”)
Georges says that there have been party stores in this spot next to the Stadium Pharmacy (now owned by his nephew Xavier Tato) for sixty years, ever since the little West Stadium Shopping Center opened to serve the neighborhood growing up around it. The party-store reign hasn’t been uninterrupted–at the turn of the millennium, it was Big George’s Home & Patio–but Gus Georges’ brother Johnny ran the Stadium Party Shoppe here until it closed in 2013. (Exactly who owned that incarnation and why it closed isn’t something Gus wants to discuss, saying only that “there was a court dispute” and the brothers are now estranged.)
Gus himself is no stranger to the business: he also owns the Huckleberry Party Store on Washtenaw in Ypsi Township. In early April the shelves at Big House were not yet completely filled, but George was glad to show off his beer cave–a walk-in cooler featuring hundreds of beers that can be mixed in a six-pack.
“It’s gonna be a one-stop shop, with dairy, produce, cheeses, sandwiches on the go. Every single customer counts,” he says smoothly. “If I can’t make them happy I’m in the wrong business.”
“You got it!” he says cheerfully to another morning customer, this one buying Popov vodka, Cherry Coke, and a can of tuna.
Big House Liquor, 1940 W. Stadium Blvd. (West Stadium Shopping Center), 436-4993. Mon.-Wed. 9 a.m.-11 p.m., Thurs.-Sat. 9 a.m.-midnight, Sun. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. No website.