Posted 10/21/13 – In October of 1963, Bill Sullivan was notified by his brother, Frank, of a business opportunity in the city of Sierra Madre. At the time, Bill lived in Chicago, Illinois where he worked as a steamfitter. After hearing from his brother, he made a phone call to California and made arrangements to buy a liquor store in Sierra Madre. One month later, his wife, Marie, and their three children, ages seven, six & four, flew to California to join Bill who was busy preparing to open their new business. The day they landed, they were greeted with the news John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. One month after that, on December 23, 1963, Bill and Marie, who had never even operated a cash register before, opened what is now known as The Bottle Shop.
Bill’s oldest son, also named Bill, his brother Dan, and sister, Kathy (Copeland) spent much of their childhood working at The Bottle Shop, substituting chores at home for chores at the shop. “We stocked the cigarettes, bagged the ice, and sorted and separated the deposit bottles seven days a week for which we were paid a weekly allowance of sixty cents,” remembers Bill. After graduating from high school in 1975, the younger Bill started working full time at The Bottle Shop, eventually being in charge of all its operations before purchasing it from his dad in 1984. The elder Bill pursued other interests, including founding Sierra Madre City College, a philanthropic organization, and building and owning a storage facility in Sierra Madre until his death in 2011. Marie continues to own Self Storage in Sierra Madre.
Throughout the years, the store has seen many changes and remodels. When the lease for the business next door expired in 1982, The Buccaneer decided to move a few doors west creating an opportunity for The Bottle Shop to add a seventeen door walk-in box that allowed the store to stock more than one hundred imported beers. In 1998, on the day the City of Sierra Madre celebrated Wistaria Day, the store was gutted by a fire and declared a total loss. Forty days later, with the whole family pitching in, along with help from several community members, the store re-opened. The most recent change occurred in 2011 when the store expanded once again into unoccupied space to the west, adding a climate controlled wine room, and a wine tasting bar allowing customers to sample the various wines sold at The Bottle Shop.
Today, The Bottle Shop is run by Bill, along with his wife, Patty, and twin sons Jay and Jeff, recent graduates with degrees in Finance from Southern Methodist University. Their daughter Tracy is currently a senior at Santa Clara University, and also helps out whenever she is home from school.
On Saturday, October 26th, from 2 to 6 pm, The Bottle Shop invites everyone to stop by and celebrate their fifty years of service in Sierra Madre. There will be door prizes, appetizers, and live entertainment by the “Mello D’s”, featuring Dave Osti and Deanna Cogan. Participants will have the opportunity to choose among dozens of wines and beers to sample. The cost is $10.00 per person.