The Bartz's in Brookfield, Wisconsin was one of those places that, growing up, sat tantalizingly on Bluemound Road, always catching my gaze as my parents drove my brother and I to day care, my job at nearby Fun World or any number of business situated alongside a busy street I once unusually considered my favorite road. Though I still find it odd that I once awarded such a distinction, could one really argue with a roadway that contained, among other kid-friendly places of retail commerce, such businesses as Best Buy, Half Price Books, Funcoland, Toys "R" Us and the Brookfield Square shopping mall?
It is for this reason that visiting Bartz's was made all the more special whenever we stopped by. Viewed by many as a destination where one can purchase a wide variety of party-related items, a trip inside your standard Bartz's presents a world unlike any other-on first glimpse, the store may give off the appearance of so many similar retail establishments, but one doesn't need to take more than a few steps to find that is most certainly not the case. Aisles are filled in a well-organized manner with everything you need to make your next party fly off the proverbial chain, and don't be surprised if you happen upon products related to a forgotten Twilight sequel or Batman reboot, for the next time you'd like to throw a party themed after a Twilight sequel or Batman reboot.
What's that? You'd like your next get-together to have the feel of a crime television show parody? Look no further than Bartz's.
There's even swag for the grillmaster in your life, and an assortment of Disney Channel memorabilia. It's not just the reasonable prices, it's the charm.
Unquestionably, what Bartz's has en masse is a surplus of TLC, and nowhere is that represented better than in the costume department-a vast selection of high-quality outfits guaranteed to ensure generous applause at your next office Halloween soiree sits at Bartz's year round, accompanied by a litany of masks that, depending on the store, either sit off in their own dedicated section, as is the case with the Menomonee Falls branch, or on a shelf below the ceiling encircling the perimeter of the sales floor. Make no mistake-these masks are quite realistic, and 100% a reason why a visit to Bartz's should be scheduled for as soon as possible. If you think the masks are looking at you, possibly even chucking a bit under their rubbery breath, you're not alone.
Heck, Menomonee Falls even has a candy counter, though it no longer houses sugary treats and instead sits dormant at the base of a flight of stairs next to a door previously used as a secondary entrance. Now a relic of the Bartz's of yesteryear, it's still nifty to look down and imagine purchasing a sack of nonpareils to accompany your new, terrifying mask.
I mean, c'mon, they even use this Sesame Street bus as a display. What a place.
The words above don't even begin to describe my feelings towards Bartz's-even as the number of locations in the Milwaukee area have decreased over the years, I'm grateful that a few remain as continued icons in the world of party necessities, as well as a reminder of a chain that's aged as I have-even others in my age group, such as the fine team at Milwaukee Record, posted an article about a Bartz's POG commercial from decades prior, another indicator of the impact these stores had on my generation. I truly wish nothing but the best for Bartz's, and know that the next time I'm in need of a guitar-shaped pinata for my next holiday bash, my journey will take me to a little place in suburban Wisconsin where, even if all I walk away with is a smile, I'll consider that visit a success.