The Menominee River bridge corner on County Road N will see a big change when a new Aurora Liquors store opens later this summer. "It's getting hard to work in." store owner Brian Pearson said of the current building, which will be torn down. "There's no room to grow there." The new facility, measuring about 5,200 square feet, will nearly triple the size of Aurora Liquors. It will house a walk-in beer cooler that will be among the largest in Wisconsin- 11 feet deep with 19 display doors. Drive-thru window service will be a new feature, with coffee and soft-serve ice cream on the menu. Items from the store can be ordered as well, if the request can be reasonably met. Planned store hours are 6 AM to 9 PM, seven days a week.

Aurora Liquors was established April 1st, 1975 by Pearson's father, Kent, who expanded a corner grocery outlet, put more emphasis on beverages, and added gasoline pumps. The new store pays nostalgic tribute to Kent Pearson's fame as a stock car race, displaying a 1957 Chevrolet that was driven by the former  Norway Speedway champion in the early 1970's. The car is mounted on a platform "as is", heaving been retrieved from a rural field.

The new store, an idea that Kent Pearson introduced is now becoming a reality- a little more than a year after his death. "My dad and I had talked about it for years," Brian Pearson said, noting the venture represents a 25 year investment. Shelving and freezer space will be greatly expanded, as the store continues to offer grocery staples. Upper Peninsula breweries will have a prominent display and a wider variety of wines, liquors, sodas and mixers will be sold.

On the fuel side, Aurora Liquors will continue to offer 24-hour gasoline service for customers paying at the pump. A new island is being added specifically for diesel fuel. During store hours, a propane tank exchange service- deposit an empty propane tank and purchase a full one- also will be maintained. Unfortunately, Pearson said, the popular Aurora Liquors Deli will be discontinued.

A kitchen wasn't deemed practical for the new site. Dave Richitg, who ran the food service for many years, expressed his appreciation to the deli's loyal customers. He plans to remain with Aurora Liquors until his retirement. "This corner is going to look a bit different" he said.

Pearson, who's time with the store dates back nearly 30 years, looks forward to the update. "We just outgrew the other building," he said. Pearson said he and his wife, Lisa, their family, and the store's employees are happy to build on the Aurora Liquors tradition of friendly service and quality products. MBM Construction of Kingsford is the main contractor for the new building.

-Jim Anderson, Iron Mountain Daily News