VOL. 130 | NO. 109 | Friday, June 5, 2015
Buster's Boom: Popular Liquor and Wine Store Expanding
By Amos Maki
Buster’s Liquors & Wines is expanding its footprint. The popular wine and liquor store near the University of Memphis is taking over the space occupied by La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant in the University Center retail development at Poplar Avenue and Highland Street.
Buster’s is expanding as it prepares for the local wine and liquor sales landscape to shift.
In November 2014, voters in Memphis, Bartlett, Collierville, Arlington, Millington and Germantown approved wine sales in food stores beginning in July 2016. Local liquor store owners, including the Hammond family that owns Buster’s, opposed the move, saying it could hurt mom-and-pop liquor stores.
In spite of the impending changes, Buster’s is moving forward with an expansion that should start this summer. It will provide the store, located at 191 S. Highland St., with an additional 6,000 square feet for a total of 16,000 square feet when complete.
Founded by R.M. “Buster” Hammond Jr. in 1954, Buster’s has been family-owned and operated through three generations. In 1989 and 2000, Buster’s was recognized as one of the Top 10 Wine Shops in the country by Wine Spectator’s Market Watch magazine.
“Buster’s is a heritage brand and an excellent anchor to the University District,” said Bob Loeb, president of Loeb Properties, which owns University Center. “Some will go to grocery stores for convenience and others will go to Buster’s because of their expertise and service.”
The Buster’s expansion comes as the nearby Highland Strip is poised for growth, with Memphis-based Loeb targeting the area for investment.
In December, Loeb acquired the former Newby’s property at 535 and 539 S. Highland and the former Peddler bike Shop location at 569 S. Highland. The company’s plans included splitting the sprawling Newby’s complex into two spaces and possibly acquiring more property on and around the strip.
The Highland Strip has been an on-again, off-again retail and entertainment area since the original Normal-Buntyn Shopping Center emerged in the 1960s, but activity in the area has been picking up.
Thanks to a $500,000 grant from the state, Walker Avenue – home to University District institutions like Brother Juniper’s Restaurant, Garibaldi’s and RP Tracks Restaurant and Bar – will be remade into a more appealing, pedestrian-friendly environment featuring bicycle lanes, new street lighting and a community plaza or courtyard.
Meanwhile, Indianapolis-based developer Milhaus Development and Memphis-based Poag Shopping Centers are developing the nearby Highland Row project at Highland and Midland Avenue. The $58 million project includes 32,000 square feet of retail space, 354 apartment homes, a 511-space parking garage and land for 35 townhomes that will transition from a craftsman-style neighborhood to the west into the University of Memph