NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — While the fate of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop remains unknown, the sale of the building has country music fans hopeful it will return to its old glory.
The warranty deed for the property at 417 Broadway shows it sold for nearly $18 million, more than three times the amount it was bought for less than two years ago.
The store has sat dark for months now as heartbroken country music fans turn away after finding the lights out and doors locked.
“I’m from Norway, that’s about 5,000 miles from here. I’ve been to Nashville’s maybe about 100 times,” Kenny Senland told News 2 while taking photos of the shutdown store.
It’s not a trip to Music City for Senland without a visit to one of his favorite stops, the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. “I always visit that shop every time I’m in Nashville. I got a lot of LPs back home I bought in here, so it’s really special.”
The store, founded by Grand Ole Opry Star Ernest Tubb, originally opened in 1947 on Commerce Street in downtown Nashville. It’s served as a one-stop shop for country and bluegrass music at its location on Lower Broadway since 1951.
“It means everything, it’s a part of our history in the country music community,” said singer Larry Weakley.
The history runs thick in Weakley’s blood. He was a regular in the ’70s at the record shop as his grandmother owned Tootsies across the street.
“My dad was a staff drummer at the Grand Ole Opry and a recording artist, as well, and Ernest had him on as a guest in the midnight jamboree a lot of Saturday nights. The room would be filled with just great players, musicians, of course, a lot of country music fans,” Weakley explained.
In March, it was announced on the store’s Facebook page that they would be selling the business and the real estate, and since then, there has been an outpouring of support to save it.
Monday, the sign on the marquee summed up fans’ feelings, with one of Tubb’s signature songs.
“Thanks, thanks a lot. I got a broken heart that’s what I got,” Weakly sang.
News 2 reached out to the seller of the property, Jessie Lee Jones, who also owns Roberts Western World across the street. He said, unfortunately, he can’t comment.
We also spoke to a family member of Ernest Tubb whose been pushing to preserve the store. He told News 2 that he is hopeful the store will reopen as a record shop, saying one of the new owners is Tubb’s grandson.
The building is one of four on the block built in the 1850s according to Tim Walker who is the Executive Director of the Metro Historical Commission. He says the building once served as a Union hospital during the Civil War. Walker went on to explain that it can’t be demolished as it is in the historic Broadway Preservation District.