Business would acquire local Master Z's business, building


The Great Escape, a large home leisure retailer in the Midwest, is looking to expand its footprint in Waukesha.

According to city documents, the business plans to acquire local home leisure retailer Master Z's and use that business's recently expanded building just off Sunset Drive as its first Wisconsin store.

Jim Lindenberg, the president and owner of Master Z's, said in a letter to city officials that he plans to sell his business to The Great Escape, an idea he reportedly hatched when he heard earlier this year that The Great Escape was initially considering a Brookfield location.

RELATED: Jim Lindenberg is a serial entrepreneur

"The Great Escape poses a serious competitive threat to my business if the strategic acquisition does not come to fruition," Lindenberg wrote. "They have many more stores and greater buying power with far more resources."

As a result, Lindenberg has requested a zoning variance for his Waukesha location, 1005 Spring City Drive. The city's board of zoning appeals will consider that variance at it's Jan. 9 meeting.

Stiff competition

"I personally do not want them to go to Brookfield and certainly do not want to compete with them just a few miles away should they break off negotiations due to rejection of my request for an amended occupancy breakdown," Lindenberg said.

He wrote that he requested the change to accommodate The Great Escape's business model, which calls for using 90 percent of its stores for retail space and 10 percent for office or warehouse space.

That model differs from Master Z's, which, after its September expansion, uses 80 percent of its 39,000 square foot Waukesha store for retail and 20 percent for office or warehouse space.

RELATED: Legends of the Field moving from Delafield to Waukesha

Lindenberg wrote that The Great Escape is willing to accept an 87 percent and 13 percent split, so that's what he's asking for.

A Master Z's spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the acquisition on Friday, Dec. 30.

The Great Escape is an Illinois-based retailer with a total of about 25 stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio.

More product offerings

In addition to offering home leisure products, such as pool tables and patio furniture, The Great Escape also sells pools, hot tubs and fitness equipment, which Master Z's does not.

Earlier this year, Lindenberg moved his sports memorabilia business, Legends of the Field, from Delafield to Waukesha after a customer survey revealed customers wanted a bigger store and more product offerings.

A similar move took place in late 2015 when Lindenberg purchased B&B Bobbleheads of Wauwatosa and moved it into Master Z's.

Lindenberg said at the time that the moves allowed customers to shop for sports memorabilia and rec room products at the same location.

"When you're decorating your rec room, it's nice to have all the products under one roof," he said.

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