It's 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday, and you're out carousing with friends. But something has been nagging at you all night long. Then it hits you like a ton of Schlitz: tomorrow is your wife's/dad's/sister's birthday, and you haven't bought a gift yet!
Never fear -- you might be dealing with a hangover the next morning at breakfast, but at least you can bring a birthday present to the party. None of these will earn you the gift-giver of the year award, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
The Brat Stop
Hwy. 50 and I-94, Kenosha
It's open till 1:30 a.m. on weekdays and 2:30 a.m. on weekends, and The Brat Stop is the perfect place to pick up cheese, cheesehead hats, and of course, brats. You can also peruse their selection of Packers themed gifts, including the obligatory "Bears suck" merchandise. Perfect for dad.
2155 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
This is the bar that hatched this story. The sign outside this Bay View corner tavern, announcing its "last-minute gift shop," has evoked many a giggle, but Chaser's isn't kidding. In the room behind the bar sits a real-life gift shop, full of knick-knacks, assorted pewter dragons, deer-themed clocks and more. Believe it or not, they're priced reasonably, too. Make this your first stop if you find yourself at bar time without a present for tomorrow.
Famous Smoke Shop
1213 E. Brady St.
They're not open all the way 'till bar time, but the Brady Street tobacco store does stay open until midnight, which should be plenty late enough to stock up on a cigars, a humidor or a fancy lighter for your dad or brother.
3473 S. 27th St.
Bear with us on this one, but if mom's into cooking, she will surely appreciate a giant container of olive oil, which is available for purchase at this 24-hour Greek family restaurant. Add in a freshly-baked cake, and it's a great present for any kitchen aficionado.
Frank "Pepperoni Cannoli" Pecoraro
Various locations across the East Side and Downtown
Hang out long enough at any bar on the East Side, Brady Street or Downtown, and it's a good bet that you'll get a visit from Frank. He's the guy shouting "Pepperoni! Cannoli!" at the top of his lungs, cooler full of homemade goodness in tow. Don't expect much quality conversation to accompany your purchase, but what could be better than presenting your wife with a big stick of sausage for her birthday? (Thank us later on that one.)
Potawatomi Bingo Casino Sweet Grass Gift Shop
1721 W. Canal St.
Looking for something a bit more authentic for that special someone? The gift shop at Potawatomi is open until 1:15 a.m., Monday-Thursday, and until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday (it closes at 11 p.m. on Sunday). That should give you plenty of time to shop for handcrafted Native American-themed items like medicine wheels, dream catchers, tobacco pouches, jewelry and pipes. You will also find Potawatomi Bingo Casino souvenirs, including t-shirts, sweatshirts, baseball caps, coffee mugs, chili/soup mugs, bingo dauber bags and leather jackets.
779 N. Front St.
Here are some gifts you can enjoy before you even give them. With every "Spy's Demise" cocktail you drink at the Safe House, you get a free, commemorative cup. So if you'd like to give sis a four-pack of this attractive glassware, just order four cocktails and start drinking (hangover is included for free). The friendly staff will even rinse out your cup and wrap it in paper for safe transport.
1836 N. Pulaski St.
You might be able to sneak away a bag of free popcorn to go along with your "I closed Wolski's" bumper sticker, but even that is too half-assed of a gift for this list. Instead, check out the Wolski's-themed selection of clothing. After all, you can't get more romantic than a pair of thong underwear from this classic Milwaukee tavern.
Really, really desperate? Try these last-minute ideas (and as always, please add your own using the Talback feature below):
- 24-hour adult video stores along I-94, south of Milwaukee
- Area gas station rose in a tube
- Bradford Beach sand
- George Webb's gift certificates
- Landmark Lanes claw machine game (gift not guaranteed)
- Laundromats (laundry soap, dryer sheets ... but if it's for your wife, be prepared to sleep on the lawn)
- Lottery tickets
- Pick 'N Save (groceries, cheesy T-shirts, magazines, etc.), but not all are open late
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.