Ownership of Ernest Tubb Record Store Sold, Hope of Preservation Renewed
The iconic Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Lower Broadway in Nashville has been officially sold to a group of investors for $18.3 million, along with the Record Shop’s current contents, including inventory and fixtures in a deal separated for an undisclosed amount. The new owners are Nashville-based real estate investor, developer and former NFL player Brad Bars, Russian-born Nashville studio musician Ilya Toshinskiy, and Ernest Dale Tubb III, who is a businessman based in the Nashville area, as well as Ernest Tubb’s grandson.
The landmark of country music had become embroiled in a legal dispute between former owner David McCormick and new owners JesseLee Jones and Emily Ann Cousins, who also own the honky tonk Robert’s Western World on Lower Broadway. Jones and Cousins purchased the property from David McCormick in 2020. What at first seemed like the perfect deal to preserve the property and the business by transferring it to JesseLee Jones ended up with the respective parties announcing the closing of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, and putting it up for sale.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the news of the sale of the Ernest Tubb record store – building and trade -,” he added. the March 11 statement said conclusively. “Due to changed circumstances beyond our control, it is now clear that the best course of action is to sell the business and the real estate.”
The $18.3 million price tag for the historic 3-story building and the 0.08-acre parcel it sits on equates to about $2,000 per square foot, which, according to the Nashville Post, is in line with recent offers for similar properties. JesseLee Jones and Emily Ann Cousins bought the same property for about 1/3 that price in 2020, for $4.75 million. David McCormick bought the building and property for $128,000 in 1992 when Lower Broadway was at its lowest after the Ryman Auditorium closed.
The most pressing question for many country music fans and conservatives alike is what the plan is for the historic building and iconic Ernest Tubb Record Shop. Saving Country Music attempted to contact the three new owners to comment on their plans for the property after the deal was announced on Friday (7-29) afternoon, but did not hear back at the time of this post.
However, with the investment group including both a musician and a direct, namesake heir to Ernest Tubb, this should give those concerned about the future of the property and the business some cautious assurance. Including Ernest Dale Tubb III in the deal at least gives him a connection to the Ernest Tubb family.
Ilya Toshinskiy is one of Nashville’s most prolific current studio musicians, having performed on recordings by George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Blake Shelton and more. Playing guitar, mandolin, dobro, banjo and other instruments, Toshinskiy is a two-time Academy Award winner for Country Music Player of the Year (Specialty Instruments), a five-time MusicRow Best Guitarist and was nominated for CMA Musician of the Year. The 44-year-old also has his own band named Bering Strait.
Toshinskiy has also dabbled in real estate investing in recent years, including buying property in the Nashville suburb of Berry Hill and turning it into five townhouses, as well as buying a small office building. downtown in March for $2,725,000 to also be converted into residences.
Real estate investor Brad Bars played briefly for the New York Giants in the NFL and has been involved in several development projects in Nashville over the past few years, including pay 4 million dollars for a 2.37-acre property near Tennessee State University housing 46 apartments.
What we do know is that the new ownership group will not be able to demolish or significantly alter the historic Ernest Tubb Record Shop building at 417 Broadway, which, among other uses, once housed a Civil War hospital. In a interview with Saving Country Music in April, Nashville Subway Historic Commission Executive Director W. Tim Walker said the structure was protected by historic designation.
“It’s in a local historic overlay district. It is in the Broadway Historic Preservation District, which stretches from 1st to 5th Avenue and includes all properties on both sides of the street,” said W. Tim Walker. “The building cannot be demolished. It is a contributory or historic building to that local neighborhood.
Although former Ernest Tubb Record Shop owner David McCormick declined to comment directly to Saving Country Music on numerous occasions about the sale and purchase, while commenting on an article here on save country music on Sunday, May 8, he said: “On a lighter note, the record store will reopen.
Recording musician Cliff Gerken also said on May 9: “Hundreds of press articles… Thousands of fans… Multiple petitions… And wonderful people who love country music and have prayed for its legacy… Good news! The Ernest Tubb Record Store is not closing!! They will reopen soon!! Details to come!! »
Cliff Gerken then posted in part Friday evening (7-29), “IT’S OVER!!! MY TWO YEAR NIGHTMARE IS OVER. RECORD SHOP WILL NOW BE IN GOOD HANDS WITH ERNEST TUBB, III. AN ORDER TO THE “BAD GUYS” TO HAND OVER THEIR KEYS.
Saving Country Music will continue to report on this developing story and the new ownership group’s construction and business plans as information becomes available and confirmed.
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First opened in 1947 on Commerce St. as a retail business for country legend Ernest Tubb, it moved to its most iconic location on Broadway in 1951. Frustrated with the lack of national records stocked in many retail establishments across the country, instead of complaining about Il, Ernest Tubb decided to do something about it, opening the store just around the corner from the Ryman Auditorium where the Grand Ole Opry was being held.
The place also became the venue for the Midnite Jamboree – the Opry’s official/unofficial afterparty every Saturday night. As the record store has become a landmark, the Midnite Jamboree has also become a cultural staple. This is where Loretta Lynn got her big break and dedicated a song to Patsy Cline as she lay in a hospital bed after a tragic car accident – just one of many legendary moments in the history of the country facilitated by the Ernest Tubb Record Shop and the Midnite Jamboree.
Soon the Ernest Tubb Record Shops and the Midnite Jamboree became national institutions. Several ET Record Shops opened across the country, including in Pigeon Forge, TN and Fort Worth, TX. The Midnite Jamboree aired on WSM in Nashville and simulcast in many markets.