By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Mar 04, 2024 at 11:31 AM

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March is Women's Month internationally as well as Bar Month on OnMilwaukee and this news is the perfect blend of the two.

Two women, who are longtime residents of the East Side and customers of Downer Wine & Spirits, purchased the 1934-built liquor store located at 2638 N. Downer Ave.

Business partners Tonit Calaway and Sarah Zimmerman, also known as "Boss Babes, Inc." purchased the business from brothers Mark and Steve Nord who owned it for 18 years. Steve Nord will continue as the store’s general manager.

“This neighborhood has always been so important to me and my family and the store is a mainstay of the Downer Avenue corridor,” Calaway says. "“It’s important to Sarah and me that it continue to thrive, as well as the neighborhood and the other businesses on Downer Avenue. As longtime customers ourselves, we are excited to get to know our customers and understand how to meet their needs.”

Downer Wine & Spirits is known for offering a carefully curated selection of wines, spirits and beers and in-store tasting events. The store launched a new Wine Club rewards program Friday and customers can sign up and learn details at the store. 

“The perfect bottle of wine or bourbon can make a night with friends or family truly memorable,” Zimmerman says. “We are excited to help make that happen for our customers.”

The new owners say the atmosphere and offerings will remain the same for the near future.

Calaway and Zimmerman, who are friends as well as neighbors, decided to buy the business after learning it was for going up for sale via casual conversation. Calaway travels extensively through her job at BorgWarner, Inc. and is a venture investor in hospitality and entertainment. Zimmerman, a former attorney who serves on several local nonprofit boards, has familial ties to Milwaukee brewing since the original Schlitz brewery. Both women say they have a desire to learn everything they can about the beverage industry.

“It's not that we were looking to start a store – it's that we love this store and this neighborhood and want to see them continue to thrive,” Zimmerman says. 

Visit for more information and follow Downer Wine & Spirits on Facebook and Instagram.

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.