PINE ISLAND, Minn. - After 55 years in the business, Von Klopp Brew Shop is closing on September 27.
Wally Klopp's father bought the Pine Cheese Mart in Pine Island in the 1955 and Klopp has been in the industry ever since. In 1958, Highway 52 bypassed Pine Island. "We lost all that traffic so to survive we bought land out here on the highway again and I opened the store in 1969," explains Klopp.
Klopp's business has gone through many changes over the decades. Klopp has owned 5 beer, wine, cheese, and deli shops in the area. The Highway 52 location was originally a cheese shop and a restaurant. After tiring of running the restaurant, he closed it and expanded the wine and beer part of the business.
Eventually, cheese was dropped from the shop after a change to Highway 52 in 2013. "We are no longer in the cheese business because MNDOT closed the crossoverin front of our driveway... When they did that we lost 90% of our traffic. We had to take the cheese out but just rolled with the punches again and expanded the wine and beer making," says Klopp.
Klopp's beer and wine supply business boomed, but the 4 other stores gradually closed. Besides the Highway 52 location, the store in Rochester was the last to close. The Rochester location did well, but Barlow Plaza rent costs went up and Klopp made the call to close it.
Next month marks 50 years of being in the Highway 52 location and Klopp and his wife are retiring to spend more time with family. Von Klopp Brew Shop is having a close-out sale and beer and wine brewing enthusiasts are stocking up.
He says his best memories are "The fun I've had helping people. There's been thousands of winemakers and brewers." He enjoyed educating people about brewing.
Because of uncertainties about the future of Highway 52 near Pine Island, Klopp isn't sure if or when he'll sell the building.
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