In 60 days, it’ll be over. Or beginning, depending on how you look at it.
Jon Tinnans, owner of Ear X-tacy at 1534 Bardstown Rd., has confirmed that the legendary Highlands record store has been sold to Trans World Entertainment (NASDAQ: TWMC), an Albany, N.Y.-based company that operates over 700 music and video stores, most notably the mall-based chain f.y.e.
In February, Tinnans held a press conference in which he laid out the facts of the dire state of his store’s survival in the poor economy.
Tinnans wouldn’t disclose how much he stands to make in the deal, but plans to give his staff raises and belated holiday bonuses—even if he winds up in the cutout bin. “I just wanted to be the kid behind the counter selling records,” Tinnans said Wednesday from his office, an untouched Kleenex box just out of reach. “If they let me have a job here, I’ll still be.”
Effective June 1, the takeover will expand the number of area f.y.e. stores to three, adding to locations at Mall St. Matthews and Jefferson Mall. (Another Trans World property, at Greentree Mall in Clarksville, Ind., operates under the Sam Goody name.)
“I knew we couldn’t compete, but with f.y.e. on our side we stand to survive for at least another six months.” Tinnans stressed that he is doing what he can—what he must—to ensure a semblance of independence in a sea of big-box competition. “Hopefully this will cause a ripple effect on the rest of the Louisville economy, starting right here in the Highlands. Of course we don’t want, say, CVS moving in, but if we can maintain that momentum and spirit—even from out of state—it’s all good.” He promises that very little will change, and those things that do will be for the better. “I don’t want it said that I sold my soul for rock and roll….There’s been a paradigm shift, no doubt about it. I mean, you think f.y.e, you think malls. This”—he pointed to the floor—“this isn’t a mall. I mean, look at the paint job. Green and peach does not scream ‘mall.’”
Tinnans continued: “John Mayer played here for just a few dozen people when he was starting out. I’m looking forward to continuing this. Of course we’ll still have local acts like My Morning Jacket, but we’ll also get more national performers like Justin Bieber and Adam Lambert.”
Tinnans, with Trans World’s blessing, plans to hire new employees to staff the upstairs area, which, in a pilot program for Trans World, will feature a cafe, complete with Wi-Fi. One employee proposed the name Turntable for Two, but Tinnans called it “kind of cheesy….I was hoping to incorporate ‘Ear X-tacy’ in there somehow, as the rest of the [establishment] will have the f.y.e. name come this summer…so people don’t forget the great record store this once was, is now and still will be.”
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Photo: Courtesy fye.com