O-W Sports & Liquor has been a landmark in the Owen-Withee community. It has been around, under different names and owners since the 1920s, according to current owner Jackie Reinke.
Back in those days, it was called O-W Discount and they sold bait and fishing goods and more. When Laverne Shilts owned the place, they had Ed Phillips & Sons Discount Catalogs and ordered from them. “Herb Stock had owned it for about four years, then Laverne Shilts for about four years, then Bill and Gladys Renne for about the same time, then I purchased it from them,” recounts Jackie.
“When I bought it, we still did some business with the Ed Phillips Catalog thing, then that went away. They had a warehouse over in Eau Claire,” explained Jackie. “In fact, Tom and I got our wedding rings from them.”
Jackie thinks that it was Laverne Shilts who got the liquor license for the store. The Rennes built the east-west addition to the store that now houses the fishing supplies and the sales desk.
Jackie took over the place on May 1, 1979 at the age of 25. She was already married to Tom. “I worked for Bill and Gladys for a year and they decided they were going to sell the business. They were going to advertise it but didn’t know what would happen to my job. They told me that they would put in a good work for me with whoever decided to buy it. Well, the lightbulb came on and I mentioned it to my husband and the rest is history.”
She had a little help from her parents, she says. “We bought it on a land contract and my parents co-signed on the loan for the inventory. We were very fortunate. How many people can say they start off a business with virtually nothing?”
“We’ve had different...adventures,” she goes on. “When we took over, the only wines we had were King Solomon, Mogen David, and Manischewitz. There were a few others that came along but nobody wanted to drink them. Now we have so many wines—and good Wisconsin wines—and we expanded into liqueurs and more. We added the pizzas and chips. Bill and Gladys basically had a liquor store and sporting goods and the live bait. We added milk and bread, you know, grocery items.
She has no idea how many wines she now carries. Over 300? She does know that she has a wide variety from the sweet wines to the drier ones.
She has had nieces and many young Owen-Withee girls from the school. “I hate to say it but mostly girls. Oh, there were a couple of guys, I remember. A lot of those young people who worked for me got their foot in the door by volunteering at the Withee Ballpark. In fact, that was where I could see their work habits first-hand.”
She talks fondly about many of those young women who worked with her. “Oh, there were the Gable girls, Sarah Meckle, Lacy Wilson, my nieces, both Koller girls—Sarah and Meghan—and I have had a lot of people over the years that I have enjoyed so much.”
When asked about the morning group who visits O-W Sports & Liquor most morning, she says that nobody can really remember how they got started. She especially has enjoyed working with the young people. Sometimes, young need to hear advice from another adult when they don’t want to listen to their parents.
Jackie remembers one mother who thanked Jackie for the advice given to her son. It was the same advice that the mother had given but the son wasn’t listening to his mother. He did listen to Jackie.
Jackie has always set an example of community involvement and service. It is a lesson that her nieces and others have taken to heart. Jackie Jo has taken over the work with the Softball League, even though she has a full-time job at Aspirus Medford Hospital.
Jackie has a legacy of volunteering that runs the spectrum from sports to the Chamber of Commerce to benefits for those in need. It was the same spirit that drove her brother, the late Sid Borgeson. Fittingly, a community service award has been named in Sid’s honor and the first recipient was Jackie in 2020.
The Sentinel & Rural News covers the news and events of Clark County and southern Taylor County, as well as regional news that affects those areas.