Ear-X-Tacy - Louisville, KY

edited July 2010 in Bricks & Mortar
Most of us have fond memories of great brick&mortar stores, either still alive and kicking or shuttered long ago. This thread will be for them.

With MP3s becoming increasingly prevalent in our music buying habits, it's not hard to see the connection between the rise in digital stores and the decline of brick&mortar music stores. This is an opportunity to put the spotlight on your favorite music stores. They could use the hype for fuel, and if the store has already gone under, it'll be a chance to honor their memory.

I'll go first.

My first one is a new one to my life. Ear-x-Tacy in Louisville, KY has been in the Highlands for decades. My wife grew up down the street from it and has nothing but great memories of the place. It's the first music store I hit in Louisville.

Ear-x-Tacy has been a huge supporter of the local music scene. They have shows at their store, as well as a large section devoted just to local music. Their two story location has more genres than I can keep track of. Their jazz section isn't huge, but it also has more than just the latest RVGs. There have been plenty of times I was browsing the shelves and found something that made me sit back in surprise that they had it in stock. It's no Jazz Record Mart, but they have nothing to be embarrassed about.

The store is huge. It's two stories, located in the Highlands neighborhood, which is a great section of Louisville to hang out in. Lots of nifty things to do and eat and drink. I just learned that they're moving out of their present location and just down the street to a smaller space, which I assume, costs less. There were reports they were on the verge of going under, but the resulting press brought the customers out of the woodwork and the increased sales gave them the ability to go on. Between holiday and birthday gift certificates and sales credits, I've been helping the cause.

I try to stop in whenever I'm in Louisville (about once a month). On a recent visit, I stopped in to use some of my gift certificates and to spend some cash on top of that. I had a list of about ten different bands/musicians/albums I was looking for. Like I said, the place is huge and filled with tons of different genres (for instance, I found my John Zorn under Noise/Experimental). One of the employees asked if he could help me. I told him I had a list and only about fifteen minutes before my wife began to suspect that I had taken a "detour" from the grocery store where I was supposed to be running an errand. The employee took the list from me, checked the stock status on his computer, then walked me from section to section to track the albums down. Ten minutes later, I had four albums in hand and one on order. The owner, a very nice guy, came over and apologized that he didn't have more in stock; he had been cleaned out by the wave of sales by people reacting to the news that their music store was in danger of going under. Very cool.

Here's some pictures of the store...





And here's their website. They have an online store as well.


I've got plenty more to talk about. So should you.


  • edited November 2010
    ear X-tacy Owner Pleads for Help Again
    In a video posted on the ear X-tacy website, Timmons says they are up against "fierce competition" from digital music sales.
  • I used to browse Jerry's in Denver while I lived there in the 80's and 90's but I probably spent a lot more time and money at Wax Trax and one of my favorites, Twist & Shout.

    Paul, T&S's owner is another big supporter of the local music scene and the Denver community.

    I've just discovered they have moved to a new location on E. Colfax. Looks like a nice new building, I hope that means that all the independents in Denver are doing well.
    There was another whose name I can't remember on South... Pearl I believe it was - you didn't go there if you had cat allergies, they ruled the place.
    Actually that may have been the first home of Twist & Shout.

    I have many fond memories of "Paradox" formerly "The Moosehead" and the owners Bill and Bernie in my hometown in Illinois. It was the first real record shop I spent my hard earned dollars in back in the late 60's and early 70's. My precious vinyl sold for around $5 & $6 for the most part.
    Before then I got my records at a 5 & 10 - Woolworths. Bought the Beatles new releases there for about $3.98.

    Those were the days.
  • edited December 2010
    Hey, knee.

    I actually started a thread here about Jerry's...


    I lived on two different occasions within a block of Wax Trax, both times on Washington between 13th and 12th.

    The original Wax Trax Twist&Shout was on South Pearl I believe, I want to say somewhere between, say Alameda to the south and maybe 4th to the north, but it's difficult to remember. The opened their Alameda store and their Auraria campus stores not too long after I moved to Denver (early 90s). And besides, having the Wax Trax block, Jerry's, and another small used joint right by Pearl & 12th (name totally forgotten) and another forgotten one over near like 7th & Corona, there wasn't much need for me to head down to the south Broadway Twist & Shout... I didn't have any money left to spend there after hitting the other stores.

    EDIT: Accidentally typed Wax Trax, meant to type Twist & Shout.
  • edited December 2010
    Hi jonahpwll,
    I saw your thread.
    Made me feel a little nostalgic for Denver and got me to thinkin'.

    Yeah, Wax Trax at the South Pearl location seems to ring a bell.

    I've also forgotten several others around Denver and the 'burbs that I used to check out at times - of course now most of them are gone.

    Also used to hit up a bunch of mostly used stores in Chicago - don't remember the name of the place on the near north side but it was the store they used to film "High Fidelity"... and another nearby where the owner told me that the film crew told him they wanted to use his store for the movie and then he never heard from them again.
    This was years after the fact and he was still pissed!
    Even a lot of those places are gone now.
    Too bad and doesn't bode well for my retirement dream of running a used store with lots of vinyl.
  • I'm sorry. I meant to agree with you on the original Twist & Shout being at the south Pearl address. For some reason I wrote Wax Trax. I think you had it right the first time.

    I don't know which store they used for High Fidelity. I know they did some shots around Wicker Park (and Reckless Records).

    Ah, a quick trip to the Chicago Film site states that the High Fidelity record store does not exist, they used an empty storefront at Milwaukee & Honore, which is right by the above mentioned Reckless.

    I found that movie irritatingly whiny. One of those rare times that a movie made me not want to sit down and get some writing done. To their credit, however, they did shoot a scene at my favorite (and rarely used) bridge, which crosses over the river by the East Bank Club on Kinzie. Some of the coolest condos right there on the river just to the south of the bridge. I've always wanted to get a tour of those condos. Well, no, I've always wanted to have one of those condos (or more) sold to me at a dollar a piece; I'd settle for a tour of them.
  • Jonah, in honor of this thread, I am going to do some Xmas shopping at Laurie's this afternoon.
  • Awesome!
    Man, it looks and feels like winter here, and all I want to do is go to Reckless and get some music then head over to Pequod's for pizza or Joong Boo Market for a steaming bowl of stew and a side of kimchee. And then, if I wasn't headed into a food coma, go to a bar with plenty of christmas lights strung up, decent music, and a comfy bar stool.
    I like my Kentucky hometown, but sometimes, guh.
  • Hmm, maybe I'll get more ambitious and go down to Reckless. If I get stumped on record choices, I can just give T-shirts!

  • edited October 2011
    Is ear X-tacy going the way of too many record stores? Locked, no lights on Saturday. No explanation. Same today.

    Twitter account gone. No mention of troubles in Friday's Facebook post Friday. Today's Facebook post:
    We greatly thank all of you for your concern. Unfortunately, we will be closed again today. We will have an official statement for you on Monday.

    You can follow community concerns at https://www.facebook.com/earxtacyrecords. I hope the possibility of closing is speculation, not fact.
  • Announced around 6:00 pm EDT
    Dear Louisville, and all who have shopped, supported, and loved ear X-tacy over the years,

    It has been a dream come true...actually, a dream exceeded, to be part of your musical lives here in Louisville for the last 26 years. My life was changed forever, and guided by the power of music since I can remember. Music has been the soul, the heart, the passion of my life for my entire 56 years. The re...cord store experience has been the only child in my life. Now, it's time for me to let it fly.

    Thank YOU...for allowing me to be part of your musical universe. Louisville, you made me feel like I was truly HOME when I moved here in 1976. It's been a great ride, but as George Harrison knowingly said, "All Things Must Pass." It's with sadness, but also with great pride I say to you now...

    ear X-tacy is no more

    Long live ear X-tacy!

    Please keep the music alive. Support the incredible music scene and independent businesses we have here! Until you leave this great city, you cannot realize what a unique treasure we have here. Embrace it, celebrate it, and promote it. Love it.

    Thank you all for making my dreams come true. Thank you for making ear X-tacy the wonderful place that it was. I thank all of the staff that made this store THE hub for music in Louisville for the past 26 years. Please take pride in knowing that YOU have been the heart and soul of what this store became. Thank you for sharing my dream and exceeding all of my expectations! To all of the musicians who have graced our store and stage, I cannot tell you what a thrill it's been. From the local newbies to the incredibly huge national artists...THANK YOU for gracing our store and sharing you incredible musical talents with us all...that's what I like to call: "earX-tacy".

    Love, peace, music and ear X-tacy to you all,

    John D. Timmons
    President, ear X-tacy, Inc.
  • I'll pour some out for another lost record store.

  • Very sad about Ear-X-tacy. My first Louisville record store. My wife's record store for all her life practically. I will always associate it with my in-laws house (they lived half a block away at its old location) and my John Zorn buying spree in 2010. I picked up the following albums, all new:

    In Search of the Miraculous
    Alhambra Love Songs
    Book of Angels: Lucifer
    Goddess: Music for Ancient Days

    Is that it? I feel like I may be missing one.

    Not counting a couple used (and forgotten) cds I got there in the beginning, the first proper new cd I got off their shelves was Bill Frisell's "All Hat", a very pleasant surprise seeing it there. Not an easy to find cd back then, and I scooped it up right away.

    I'll miss that place.
  • From what I've heard, they're having an inventory clearance this weekend at the store. Don't know what the prices will be like, but I'm gonna take the opportunity to stroll the aisles one more time and enjoy the store before the shuttering is complete.
  • Won't be making it there -- if John Timmons is there (and I suspect he will be), give him a great big "THANK YOU" for his years of bringing good music to this area.
  • We stopped by, but didn't go in. There were lines out the door (both front and back) that went down the block. We stopped at a nearby joint (Left Field Lounge) for a drink, then next door to a restaurant called something like Zay-tan's (mediteranean food), but even hours later, the lines were still there. Good for them.

    We ran into people people throughout the day complaining that Ear-X-Tacy wasn't actually having a sale, that everything was normally priced, though the used stuff may have been marked down a bit. Those people need to STFU, and they should have stayed the hell out of the way of me and my friends. Look, I get it... to a point. I was looking forward to finding a few deals, but the main reason I wanted to go was to have one last opportunity to browse the aisles of a favorite music store, one wrapped up in happy memories of being introduced to my new family (the in-laws) and this great new town (Louisville). I would've been happy to go in there and pay $15 for a new John Zorn and maybe find something on sale in the World/Latin/Brazil section. I just wanted one more time in the store. Instead, I can't get inside, in part, because some ungrateful bastards are complaining that the merchandise hasn't been reduced for them. Fucking vultures.

    Ear-X-Tacy has done more for the Louisville music scene than any of those friggin' whiners, and I'm little irked that the whiners who got inside made it so I couldn't.

    I hope the Ear-X-Tacy guys made a ton of cash. They deserve it; everyone who works there or has an ownership stake.

    Thank you, Ear-X-Tacy. I had a great time, and I'll always have great memories of the store, the employees, and the music.

  • That is tragic. I've only been to it a few times, but Good Records in Dallas is a nice section of new and used cps and records. They also do the occasional show usually during the day when a band is playing at a local venue.
  • edited March 2012
    For Jonah...Reckless Records, N. Broadway Ave.


    Stopped by toward end of afternoon bike ride...what a day. Not the usual thing in Chicago on March 15.

  • Oh for a record store like! And such unseasonable weather too...
  • Thanks, Doofy, those are awesome.

    Y'know, I've never been in Reckless's new Broadway store. I've been to their old one about 1,000,000,000,000 times that was a couple blocks north, right by the Lakeshore Theater, but we had moved to Kentucky by the time they moved a few blocks south on Broadway. It looks fantastic.

    And dearly beloved lakefront. I was just longingly staring at pictures of Olive Park the other day.
  • Yeah, it was my first time there too. Prices on used CDs seem a buck or two lower than some others in town, will check back often. Not wanting to spend much, but found this:


    There are CDs along the wall on the right, and some videos and other merch displayed elsewhere. Otherwise, the store is easily two-thirds vinyl, new and used.
  • When I lived down in Champaign, but commuted occasionally up to Chicago either to work a job or just visit friends, I would go through the entire Reckless on-line jazz catalog, from A to Z, and list out the albums I wanted to buy. I'd have another window open to listen to samples of stuff I didn't recognize. I'd usually get about a list of 20 or so albums for each visit, depending on prices. In many ways, it was the beginning of my emu process of going through jazz new arrivals.

    But I'd sit at that computer, espn on mute, and just spend an entire night, 9pm - 4am, listening and listening and listening and making my list. So fun. So much music discovery.
  • edited March 2012
    Wow. Total integration of the online and brick & mortar music-buying experience.

    I'm a block away from Laurie's as I write this, and even more dangerously, from Ravenswood Books.


    You should see the new Old Town School building...the neighborhood is really clippping along, not that it wasn't already.
  • Whoa, I don't know that I've ever been to Ravenswood Books. I'll have to google that.
  • edited March 2012

    Floor to ceiling, literally. I'm sure you've seen it, it's the place with the "Dancing Dick Tracys" in the window.
  • Okay, I recognize that storefront window. I'm pretty sure I've never been in, or maybe once just to poke my head in for a precursory glance before heading off to wherever I was headed. That spot on Lincoln just never really fell into my regular territory, even though we weren't exactly that far away or anything. Maybe if I get back to Chicago, I'll drop in.
  • One of my local brick and mortar stores that sells records is Schuler Books and Music. It is actually one of my favorite stores to hang out in; nice cafe, lots of books, used CD section, though the music selection is poor and deteriorating.

    They have some time recently added an online store that is powered by a third part where you can basically order any book or Cd and have it shipped to you, just like Amazon. It's powered by "DirectToU Inc."

    So, your starter for ten: if I go on their website to see if they have a CD, and order it from their virtual store (I just did this to give it a try), and DirectToYou Inc ship it to me, did I support my local store? In what sense? Was this a virtuous act of consumption?
  • I think Powell Books in Portland, Oregon would answer with an enthusiastic yes. I don't know how they manage their huge online presence, whether they use a third-party of not, but the reason they're thriving is because they jumped on the online presence thing quick and early.

    From an "ethics" standpoint, definitely yes. They've gotta be making some type of profit in the transaction or they wouldn't be doing it. If they get sales this way, that's good for them.

    My wife is vegan now (I'm close). Living as we do away from a major metro area (and the vegan options that come with it), her choices for "convenience foods" are limited. Burger King does a veggie burger (basically a Morningstar Farms product), and places like Wendy's do their burger, just without the meat and cheese. My wife read online (I think the PETA website) that vegans are highly encouraged to purchase these veggie products from places like BK and Wendy's even though the companies are responsible for the slaughter of so many animals each year, because by buying those veggie products, it tells the corporations that there are markets for veggie products and, thus, they'll take the veggie/vegan demographic more seriously. That's why if you order the various veggie/vegan products at most major fast food joints, you'd learn that the registers/POS systems actually have a button programmed for the veggie products... enough people were buying them that the company's modified their point-of-sale systems to account for the veggie/vegan segment.

    So, where I'm going with all of this, is I think it's good to support the online segment of your local music & book stores, because it tells these shops that there is a segment of the buying public out there who will use the online service, and thus give not just these companies the confidence to continue the service, but also other local music & book shops the confidence to start their own, because they've seen models of success, that local shops can enter the online market.

    That's a good thing.

  • @GP - you need to find Corner Record shop in Grandville. Used CD's and Vinyl. Schuler is a favorite of mine as well, usually the whole family goes and many books are purchased.
  • @Plong42, I went to Corner for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Bought some jazz, of which they had a decent selection, but they had almost nothing in the kinds of genres in which I'm mostly buying stuff. I like the atmosphere at Shulers, always have. And when the right person is on duty and the wind's blowing in the right direction they make a mean cup of Darjeeling.
  • @jonahpwll, I suspect that's right. I'm still curious about how close the reality is to either:
    scenario (a): they essentially changed the old process, in which I would go in, ask for a CD, they would offer to order it, and then they would send to a distributor who would send it to them and I would go back days later to get it, for a streamlined version in which the distributor sends it to me and Schulers still gets a similar cut;
    or scenario (b) in which DirectToU Inc takes a larger cut for enabling the online vending and Schulers settles for less in the interests of survival than they would have got if I had gone in and ordered the CD there.
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