When Geneseo’s Jewel grocery store closed, Karen Johnson knew there would be a need for a liquor store in town. “I think Jewel covered it for a long time, but when they closed, they created a demand, not just in Geneseo, but in the surrounding towns,” she said.


When Geneseo’s Jewel grocery store closed, Karen Johnson knew there would be a need for a liquor store in town.

“I think Jewel covered it for a long time, but when they closed, they created a demand, not just in Geneseo, but in the surrounding towns,” she said.

Many were forced to travel to the Quad-Cities area for an alcohol selection that expanded beyond beer or wine, she said.

Opening a liquor store had been in the back of Johnson’s mind for awhile, but she seriously started considering the option a year ago.

“About the time Jewel started talking about closing, I started doing my homework,” she said. Johnson visited numerous liquor stores and spoke with the owners about their business. “They were all very helpful, and told me things like, ‘If I?had to do it differently, this is what I’d do ...’”

Johnson’s vision is becoming reality. Construction is underway at the corner of Center and ?Exchange streets in Geneseo for her store.

Because of its proximity to the railroad, Johnson said the new store will be known as “Trackside Liquors.”

“I want the store to look unique,” she said. “The sign out front will be a depot-type of sign on a steel post purposely designed to rust. The outside will have nice, neutral colors that should fit nicely in the historical district.”

The store will feature 2,500 square feet of retail space. “I will have a separate wine room and a walk-in beer cave. Customers will be able to find all types of liquor, beer and wine in all different price ranges. We will have chilled wine, and will also offer the full selection of liquor store items, such as tobacco products — we’ll have a nice cigar section — and lottery tickets,”?said Johnson.

She said her store will be “non-traditional” for a retail enterprise. Johnson said the store will feature a stained concrete floor and old bricks from the property will be incorporated in the store. “I’m sticking with the train theme a bit on the inside,” she said.

Trackside Liquors also will offer a drive-up window. Johnson said she came up with the idea after touring other liquor stores. “It’s a convenience feature. If you’re on your way home from work and your husband calls and says, ‘Pick up a six-pack, so-and-so is coming over for the game,’ you won’t have to leave your car,” she said.

Trackside Liquors will be located just off State? Street, and Johnson said the property’s central location is what appealed to her.

“It’s accessible from all sides of town. I’ve heard people who live out on Wolf Road say they don’t like to have to drive all the way across town for everything. This way, I’ll be able to
offer something accessible mid-way.”

The location is close to the downtown taverns — also key for Johnson. “I just really like the fact that I’m in the downtown area, and I wanted to do anything I could to help keep the downtown alive.”

In addition to ?Johnson, Trackside Liquor will have a manager, two full-time employees and six part-time employees.

“I’m planning to open sometime in December. I? don’t have an exact date yet, but I want to be open for the Christmas holiday,” she said.