By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Mar 28, 2018 at 7:17 PM

"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee is brought to you by Miller Brewing Company, calling Milwaukee home since 1855. For the entire month of March, we're serving up fun articles on bars, clubs and beverages – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

Band fliers announcing a concert were replaced long ago by Facebook event pages, but the band sticker has stuck. Somewhat surprisingly, stickers – for bands and businesses of all kinds – continue to serve as cheap, fun and effective marketing swag.

Usually pawned off for free,  band and brand stickers often pile up in dark desk drawers, while others get rubbed onto bumpers or, if they’re particularly lucky, slapped onto the doors of coolers in taverns.

Every sticker on a bar cooler has a story behind it – one is from the coffee shop down the street; the other from a diner in Denver – and when glommed together and slightly overlapping on the cooler door, they create a punk rock collage of sorts.

Last year, OnMilwaukee’s Jason McDowell designed a new logo for the company that’s clean, fun and "Milwaukee meaningful" with representation of the Hoan Bridge and Lake Michigan. Someday, it might be on airplanes and sports arenas, but for now, it’s emblazoned on 1,000 stickers.

For the past few months, I’ve carried a few of these stickers around in my purse at all times and given them to bartenders to stick on already-stickered coolers. They wound up other places, too, including a refrigerator in an art gallery and a dude’s UPS package handcart.

But mostly I focused on bar cooler doors and trying to get our sticker on as many of them as possible. Sometimes, after I gave my sticker to the bartender and watching them carefully – or not carefully – add it to the stickery mix I’d try to look at every sticker on the door while drinking my beer or whiskey. Sometimes my OCD side would kick in and I'd even try to count them. I counted more then 200 stickers in numerous bars. 

The "I closed Wolski’s" sticker is Milwaukee’s most famous, second only perhaps to the classic black-with-a-white-oval Fuel Cafe sticker. But I also noticed a lot of stickers from Valentine Coffee, BelAir Cantina, Too Much Metal, Lakefront Brewery and The Exotics, a local surf-rock band. A few times I saw stickers from places in other states that I’d been to and enjoyed, like Erin Rose, an Irish bar in New Orleans and Slows BBQ in Detroit.

Sara Padley is the manager at Drink Wisconsinbly, 135 E. National Ave., and although the bar and restaurant has only been around for two years, the bar's coolers boast as many stickers, if not more, than watering holes that have been around for much longer.

"We started with fresh, clean cooler doors, but the stickers keep coming in," says Padley. "And we encourage it. It’s a way to support local breweries, bands, bars – whatever."

Padley says the stickers generate effective word-of-mouth promotion because they often strike up conversation between patrons sitting at the bar or between a customer and bartender. "The stickers are like ice breakers sometimes," she says.

According to Jason Antczak, the "beer guy" / bartender at Lee’s Luxury Lounge, people get picky about where they want their stickers on the coolers. Ultimately, it's his decision where they go – and if they go onto the coolers at all.

"There’s a line," he says. "We don’t want to cross it and offend anyone. But we’re cool with most stickers."

Is overlapping stickers on coolers a faux pas or a necessary "evil" once the doors are covered?

"It depends," says says Sam Berman, owner of Tin Widow. "For the most part I put them wherever the spirit moves me to. But that said I would never put a sticker over the sticker of another business I know and respect."

My Bar Cooler Sticker Tour definitely isn't over. I still have a dozen or so in my purse, but for now, enjoy these photos of stickered cooler doors. (Earn extra sticker karma points if you can find the OnMilwaukee sticker.) If  you want an OnMilwaukee sticker for your home or business just email and it's all yours.


Drink Wisconsinbly

4th Base

Lee's Luxury Lounge

PHOTO: Royal Brevvaxling 

Roman Coin (Hey, OnMilwaukee pioneered a sticker cooler door!)


(PHOTO: Rob Gilleo)

Tin Widow


Walker's Pint

PHOTO: Royal Brevvaxling

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.