Louisville Magazine

MAR 2012

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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'You know, he's made a million bucks on that.' I'm puzzled why someone would think an independent shop owner selling goods that compete with any major chain would have some vast amount of riches set back." (Similarly, Cooley debunks the fantasy that Brown must have a massive humidor at home filled with vintage guitars.) Brown says his only advantage is provid- www.kdf.org ing great service. He leans hard on his staff, a half-dozen long-serving employees who give the store its personality. Some visitors find them curmudgeonly, for better or worse. Tey also tend to play in bands, which gives them credibility with customers and empa- thy for one another when it comes to need- ing time off for a gig. "Consequently, you may find yourself manning the store by your- self," employee Jim Schweickart says, "but we all know at some point in the future it will be your fault." Brown is hands-on but trusts his staff's in- stincts and abilities — "I try to stay out of their way," he says with a grin, "which they've asked me to do a lot" — doing everything from placing orders to writing checks for vin- tage guitars. "When people come in to sell a guitar, it's not fact-finding," Schweickart says. "You have to act or you won't make the deal. We've all bought things that didn't work out, but (Brown) doesn't lord that over you." Each staffer has a specialty. For Cooley, who plays banjo with the bluegrass band Hog Operation and guitar with the honky- tonk outfit Johnny Berry and the Outliers, it's banjos and mandolins. Schweickart is particularly adept at troubleshooting. Eric Whorton, formerly with the band El Roost- ars, is into guitar pedals — you know, the boxes guitarists step on to modify sound — something Brown couldn't care less about, and convinced the boss it was a niche they could fill. "Not everyone can afford a $3,000 guitar," Whorton says, "but we found that a lot of people can afford a $150 pedal." (Whorton credits "Screamin' John" Hawkins, a former employee and the son of Emporium founder Bill Hawkins, with softening up the boss on the pedal issue.) And Brown, of course, is the vintage guy. 5PQ 3FBMUPST .PTU 7BMVBCMF )PNFT Publishing May 2012 Your advertisement will be right at HOME in any of these special advertising sections: 3FBM &TUBUF .PSUHBHF 1SPGFTTJPOBM 1SPmMFT PS %JSFDUPSZ t )PNF 5SFOET 0VUEPPS -JWJOH *OUFSJPS %FTJHO t %JTUJODUJWF )PNFT For more information, email advertising@loumag.com or call 625-0100. He simply loves the old guitars, though he admits the collectible aspect can obscure the fact that the instruments were built to make music. Schweickart says he likes to tease Brown about his careful attention to original equipment; from year to year, guitars often had variations, and Brown knows full well which Gibsons, for example, had chrome tuners and which ones were nickel-plated. "If he sees a vintage guitar that comes in and the knobs or tuners are wrong, it will drive him insane," Schweickart says. "My vision of him at 90 is him sitting at home with a box of tuners and knobs." Te matter of what constitutes vintage is [38] LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.12

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