Wine shop gets $109K loan to open new store

Funds will go toward equipment, build out

April 6, 2010

Shorewood — Phil Bilodeau and Aimee Murphy moved from California to open Thief Wine Shop & Bar in the Milwaukee Public Market in July 2008. Their business has been doing well, Bilodeau said, and he will now open a second shop in the Cornerstone building with the help of a $109,000 Business Incentive Fund loan.

The loan program, operated through the Community Development Authority, provides funds for build out costs and equipment. In addition to the Business Incentive Fund loan, the owners are putting up $20,000 of their own money and receiving a $125,000 loan from Johnson Bank. Bilodeau and Murphy will make interest-only payments on the loan for the first 18 months. The loan has a seven-year term.

Open Book, the bookstore co-op that recently announced it is closing after only a few months, received a $35,000 loan from the program.

Kelly O'Brien, a resident, said that loan has caused some people in the village to question the loan program. O'Brien asked how the Thief loan would be secured and how the village determines if the money is spent on the projects it is intended for.

Bilodeau is using his home as collateral, CDA chairman Pete Petrie said. Village Manager Chris Swartz said the village does not releases the loan until the work is completed, ensuring that the loan is properly used. Swartz said the Open Book loan will be repaid.

The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Plan Commission helped design the loan program and its employees vet the loan applications, Swartz said.

Thief Wine will employ nine full or part-time employees.

At a future meeting, Petrie plans to bring in revisions to the loan program that will help clarify eligibility.

The loans are intended to help businesses who are coming to the village and whose presence would be beneficial to the community.

"We feel they are better than grants in getting the most effect for the money," Petrie said of the loans.

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