Laser tag and liquor bags: Family fun center, liquor store to occupy former Shopko space
Published 10:11 am Wednesday, February 2, 2022
DOWAGIAC — The new owners of a long-vacant building intend to bring fun for all ages – as well as a familiar retailer – to local residents.
After nearly three years sitting vacant, the former site of Shopko, 56419 Pokagon St., Dowagiac, was sold in a December auction to Tiffany Group Real Estate Advisors, of South Bend. The real estate group has since sold the property to Mega Liquor and Smoke, which plans on transforming most of the 35,494 square foot building into an all-ages entertainment center, while leaving a corner for a separate Mega Liquor store.
“We’ve been watching that space for a while,” said Mega Liquor Business Acquisition Manager John Tiffany, who is also a partner at Tiffany Group. “Finally, the auction came along, and we decided [to] grab it and run with it.”
Tiffany said the concept for the family entertainment center will be similar to Dave and Busters, and will include bowling, arcade games, a two-level laser tag area, virtual reality equipment, a birthday party area, a restaurant, a bar and a small event venue.
“Maybe someday we’ll do some stuff outside, maybe some go-karts or something like that,” Tiffany said. “But the first phase is just the inside.”
Mega Liquor and Smoke is operated by Vishav Inc., a company founded by Bhola Singh, of Granger. The company owns and operates more than 35 liquor stores in Michigan and Indiana, including three in Dowagiac. While this entertainment center is a new venture for ownership, Tiffany said the group has been preparing for the opportunity for a while.
“We’ve spent probably six years studying the family entertainment business around the country,” said Tiffany, adding the business chose this location for the entertainment center over another property they purchased downtown South Bend. “That area is just not what we want to put a family entertainment in right now … so, we decided to look for a different market. We liked being right down from the casino, and we liked being in a small community.”
According to Tiffany, one advantage of putting this business in Dowagiac is there is nothing else like it nearby.
“There’s really nothing for families to do in the area besides go to the casino, and the kids don’t go there,” he said. “It can keep kids out of trouble, give them something to do – and it’s not just for kids. It will be a nice community center is what we’re thinking.”
Ownership has met with Dowagiac city leaders, which Tiffany said was a positive experience.
“They’re rolling out the red carpet. They’ve done a lot to help us, and we love it so far,” he said. “It’s like pulling teeth in South Bend to do a development like this, but Dowagiac is on board and has been very helpful.”
Dowagiac City Manager Kevin Anderson said he is happy to finally see the building occupied.
“The Shopko building is right at the entrance to the community,” Anderson said. “We’re looking forward to the new development coming in there and working with the new owners.”
If all goes according to plan, Tiffany said ownership would like to launch by October.
“The building doesn’t need a whole lot of renovation,” Tiffany said. “It’s going to be really nice for what we want to do there.”