The new owners of the former home of Randy’s Record Shop in Gallatin say they are willing to work with a group of local residents that want to save the building from demolition.
The property at 321-331 West Main Street, which also includes a vacant attached building and separate building being leased by Howard’s Vitamin Store, was sold at auction Thursday to local businessman and At-Large Councilman-elect Steve Fann and local real-estate investor Michelle Haynes, who partnered to purchase the property for $56,000.
Both Fann and Haynes said following the auction that they have no immediate plans for the property. However, they are open to trying to save the building from demolition after its roof was discovered to have collapsed earlier this year.
“Personally, I have a lot invested in the history and I like the history,” Haynes added. “I have for years wanted the city to buy it and do something with it, but… there is a lot involved.”
The sale, which includes a five percent buyer’s premium added to the price, has until Dec. 17 to be finalized.
Started by music business entrepreneur Randy Wood in 1944, Randy’s Record Shop was originally located on North Water Avenue in downtown Gallatin before later moving to its final location on West Main Street. The store would eventually grow to become the world’s largest mail-order record business of its time with approximately 500,000 records sold annually, according to the New York Times.
The building, which is located on property in a flood plain, has been declared dangerous by the Gallatin City Council and must either be repaired to a safe condition or demolished, according to an Oct. 31 letter from Chuck Stuart, Gallatin’s building official. City leaders chose last month to further delay moving forward with demolition proceedings by 60 days after work was done to help secure the site following a roof collapse that was reported July 18.
Formed in September, the Historic Randy’s Record Shop Foundation hopes to save the building and turn the space into a museum and functioning record shop that would be a tourist destination honoring Wood, who also founded Dot Records in the 1940’s.
City leaders were presented with a conceptual plan of action to preserve the building in August, which included restoring the front of the building to its original look, adding a new pre-engineered steel frame inside the existing structure and adding a replica of the shop’s original neon sign outside. The inside of the building would also be decorated based on a late 1950’s or early 1960’s theme.
“We’ve got some people willing to work with us now that have bought the building and we’re going to move ahead with making everything work,” said Shannon Rogers who is part of the group. “The new owners have already told us they want us to handle the fixing of (the building) ourselves and we will do that.
“We’ve got enough pledges at this time that we think we can move ahead and move ahead quickly.”
Due to the low auction price, Rogers added that the foundation hopes to be able to purchase the property from its new owners “rather quickly” – possibly sometime in early 2019.
The Randy’s Record Shop site is “one of the most important” locations in the musical history of the region, according to Gregory Reish, director of the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University.
“The impact of Mr. Wood’s endeavors and of Dot as a label are almost immeasurable, helping establish Middle Tennessee as an epicenter of the American popular music industry in the postwar years and launching the careers of numerous country, bluegrass, rock ‘n’ roll, gospel, blues, ragtime and pop artists,” Reish wrote in a letter dated Aug. 14.
The Gallatin City Council is expected to discuss whether to grant additional time to save the former Randy’s Record Shop building sometime before the current 60-day extension’s deadline of Dec 16.
If city leaders choose not to grant additional time to save the building, a new order would need to be issued informing the property owners of when they need to have the building demolished by, Gallatin City Attorney Susan High-McAuley said in September. If the work was not completed in time, the city would then move forward with demolishing the building itself.