Sunday, August 30, 2009

Music Go Round

The music goes round and round, and it comes out here... at the end of the road, the graveyard of American commerce, another empty building.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Crystal Menage

What was the Crystal Menage, anyway? Google searches for it bring up directory listings that categorize it as "Gifts, Novelties, and Collectibles" which could mean literally any kind of store, from Spencer's to Hallmark. It used to be located at 3830 Ruckriegel in J-town. (Does anyone else besides me ever use "ruckriegel" as a cussword?)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Middletown Book Shop

This place (11804 Shelbyville Road, #106) has had a long history of rotating inhabitants. In my recent memory, it lasted the longest as the Middletown Book Shop, which was pretty mediocre as used-paperback places go - it relied primarily on romance novels.

Although it's true that romance novels are among the most popular genre for that rapidly diminishing sector of the population who actually still read, it's also an extremely disposable genre - I know of many middle-aged to elderly women who buy their used romance novels at places like this by the bagful, then throw them away when they're done reading them, not even bothering to take advantage of the trade-in policy these sort of places offer. For many, it's just not worth the trouble of saving the books until they're all read and having them clutter up the house in the meantime, just to save a few coins by shlepping them back down to the used bookstore.

Therefore, having a used bookstore that focuses on romance and other similarly disposable popular genres of the masses is a recipe for failure. Used paperbacks in general are already so cheap, it's practically like giving them away, so I can't imagine how or why anyone would see a good business angle in opening such a place - even back when the economy wasn't collapsing. Anyway, end of business lecture.

Before the bookshop, someone had some sort of adult educational assistance place in here, I think. Can't recall exactly what the deal was with that. And after the bookshop, it had a brief run as a place that sold, as the window still says, "Air Brush Tattoos" (groan), "Air Brush Tanning" (double groan) and "Made T-shirts and hats" (as opposed to, uh, unmade ones?)

Thursday, August 27, 2009


323 Wallace Avenue (just a few doors down from the also-empty Close Knit Cafe space) was Bazo's Fresh Mexican Grill. Never went there, so I didn't really miss it when it left. There was another branch of it on Dutchmans Lane, but I'm not sure if it closed too - maybe so, since their website seems to be defunct.

Google Maps Street View captured Bazo's during its existence:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Electric Blue Print & Supply

Electric Blue Print & Supply has occupied this building on Story Avenue for as long as I've lived in Louisville. From the looks of the structure, it may have been some sort of fancy furniture store or department store way back in the day.

A couple years ago, they announced a big unexpected "going out of business" sale and hurriedly ditched everything in the place. I gleefully loaded up on cheap art supplies and fixtures but hated to see them go - at the time, I was running the Cinderblock Gallery just a few doors down and relied heavily on Electric Blue for all my art needs.

Shortly after going out of business, though, they promptly reappeared at a new location on Frankfort Avenue. This confused me. And still does. And their old location remains on the market but still sits empty to this day. Someone's paintings have been displayed in the windows for a long time now (Hey people, that's really not good for the paintings).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Aetna/Deem Gas

Here's an example of a nice old abandoned building that someone actually did the right thing with.

Originally this was an Aetna gas station (in those days Aetna was an oil company, not an insurance firm) and later a Deem station, which was the forerunner of today's J.F. Deem Oil & Gas. It was Middletown's very first gas station.

According to the sign out front, after the 1930s the building went through other tenants such as Wright's Dry Cleaners, a taxicab company, and the Middletown Medical Center (must have been just an info kiosk - I don't see what else a medical center could do with this building that's smaller than my living room), then ended up in the city's hands in 1996. The building was restored to some semblance of its 1920s-30s glory and today it stands empty but impressive, as a sort of museum exhibit unto itself.

This mummified gas station can be found at the corner of Main Street and Harrison Avenue in downtown Middletown.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Red Tree, Middletown

I guess the Red Tree store on Market Street downtown does an OK business - I mean, they're always packed to the rafters during Gallery Hop nights. Although I never see anyone actually buying anything during all the wine-soaked revelry.

Someone thought it was a good idea to open a second one on Shelbyville Road in Middletown. Perhaps they were thinking that the affluent Middletown/Anchorage populace made the location an obvious choice for lightning to strike twice with that Red Tree magic.

Not so.

Middletown doesn't really have anything comparable to the downtown Gallery Hop, and there is zero foot traffic here. Absolutely none. They've even done away with a couple of TARC stops in the area since no one ever used them. Downtown, Red Tree is hipster party central personified and sparkles like a crown jewel, but in Middletown it was just another knick-knack shop among many, and on not a particularly attractive block at that. (All the "elegant junk" action is one street over, on Middletown's much more swingin' Main street.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Henderson Music Co.

Last chance to get a piano cheap from Henderson Music Company on Shelbyville Road - they're almost out of business and don't have long left on their goodbye sale. Not a lot of people plunking down the chunk o' change, even on sale, for a piano in this economy, I fear.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hanson Realty

This place on S. Clay Street doesn't seem to have been in operation in many, many, many years, and frankly, it doesn't look like it was a very reputable place when it was open. I mean, come on, what good is a realtor that can't find decent real estate for themselves?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

FB3 Development

I'm not sure if they went out of business, or if they just moved elsewhere. Their website is still up but their "news" page hasn't been updated in two years.

I was always sort of confused about what was going on here at 624 E. Market, although it seemed very exciting. I took a tour of the place last year and was shown their "test kitchens" that could be rented by professional chefs wanting a Kitchen Stadium quality setting to experiment, or for development of prospective new food products. They also offered marketing services to help people push those new products.

These were apparently the same folks behind Havana Cola, a soft drink I heartily endorse.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Close-Knit Cafe

This combination yarn store and coffeehouse was located at 311 Wallace Avenue in St. Matthews. Being a yarn fetishist myself, I can't see having a place that encourages people to handle the goods while also handling food and drink. Their logo even depicted a ball of yarn floating in a cup of coffee, for God's sake; wrong message!

When I open a yarn store - and someday I will - it'll be lined with shelves containing only one skein of each type available for sale. Let that one display skein get handled and shopworn, and keep the rest stashed in a back room, safe from the coughing sneezing unwashed masses.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Building next to Genny's

There's an old crumbling house to the left of Genny's Diner & Pub on Frankfort Avenue, and it's been deteriorating as long as I can remember. Even though it was a home, it was surely zoned commercial because it's completely surrounded by businesses and other old houses converted to storefronts.

So what was in here before it fell on hard times? Who owns it, and why don't they save it from ruin?