In the continuing effort to maintain concern for the impending sale of historic Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Lower Broadway in Nashville leading on the 75th anniversary (May 3), and while chatting with former Record Shop employees, customers and boosters, and even the executive director of the Metro Historical Commission of Nashville, W. Tim Walker on the dilemmaone person’s name kept coming up in the discussion: Terry Tyson.
Terry Tyson served as Ernest Tubb’s Record Store Manager from early 2018 to early 2020. During this time, the Record Store went from being chronically understocked and undermanaged to once again becoming a destination for choice in one of Nashville’s most vibrant neighborhoods. areas. So in an effort to try to come up with some ideas and solutions to save the Ernest Tubb record store, I reached out to Terry Tyson to ask him about his time as manager and what could be done to secure the business for the future.
Hailing from near Boise, Idaho, Terry Tyson moved to Nashville in July 1999. He wasn’t an aspiring country music performer or songwriter, but as an avid fan he knew he wanted to be involved. into country music one way or another, perhaps hoping to land a job at the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, or the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, recognizing those places as the most important legacy institutions of the country music history.
When Tyson arrived in Nashville, as it will, life got in the way and paying the bills came first. He ended up working as a manager for Lowe’s Home Improvement for 17 years and interacting with the country music world in his spare time. While attending Midnite Jamboree one night, Terry Tyson met longtime Ernest Tubb Record Shop owner David McCormick and they became friends. Over the years, McCormick said that Terry could come and work at the Record Shop if he wanted. But of course, working at a record store doesn’t come with the same kind of pay or benefits as working as a manager at Lowe’s. But in 2017, Tyson finally had enough of the big box world, quit Lowe’s and called David McCormick.
Terry Tyson didn’t start out as a manager at the Record Shop. He was hired temporarily to help build the Loretta Lynn display in the back of the store, commemorating the moments that helped launch Loretta’s career from that location via his Midnite Jamboree appearances radio program. Tyson was a good fit for the job, as he had a good relationship with the Loretta Lynn camp after working as Loretta’s merchandise manager in 2004. He received minimal salary for the project, but it was a job. of love.
At that time, the Record Shop had no manager. The previous director had committed suicide, leaving the position vacant. But David McCormick was so impressed with Tyson’s work on the Loretta Lynn exhibit that he offered Tyson the job in early 2018. Terry Tyson was very happy, but the work was also very strenuous due to the nature owner David McCormick’s notoriously authoritarian over his managers.
“Right after I went to work for him, I started getting crazy emails, and a lot of hate came to me out of nowhere,” Tyson explains. “And all the women who were there forever said to me, ‘Don’t let that get you down. We need you here. Let it roll over your shoulders. And I did. I knew I was doing really good for the shop. The shop recorded a large number of sales and successes. I knew how to handle something and I loved what I was doing. I went out and invited artists over for photo shoots, album release parties, pop-up stores, whatever I could. I would go to the Hall of Fame to meet and line up, and I would ask the artists if they wanted to do something with the Record Shop. I took the dead Facebook and Instagram pages and brought them up, and really started to shake things up to make Ernest Tubb Record Shop a real destination point.
Terry Tyson transformed the record store into a hopping storefront once more, and was also responsible for restocking the store and with more profitable merchandise. “We were ordering and selling it, selling it, selling it, and in increments we kept ordering a little more, making a little more money, ordering a little more until we really had that store stocked. “, said Tyson.
Tyson also had a display case built so memorabilia from the Music Valley location of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop which closed in 2016 could be displayed. He would drive to Loretta Lynn’s ranch once a month and load his car with Loretta products to stock the record store and design custom products for the record store. Terry Tyson’s retail experience at Lowe’s, combined with his passion for country music, made him such a savvy manager.
“I worked really hard to get people there for Fan Fair events, book signings, meet and greets, whatever I could…I worked and ran this store from the cash register. I didn’t have a back office. I did not sit down. I stood there at the cash register, took people’s orders, turned around and ordered products, and ran the store from the counter.
But according to Tyson, nothing seemed to satisfy McCormick. Tyson usually worked 6 and 7 days a week, and over 50 and 60 hours a week, and always got emails from McCormick complaining about how he wasn’t working hard enough. “But it was a labor of love. None of us worked there for the money,” said Tyson. “I often thought I needed a career that would pay me well, a 401K, insurance, benefits, paid parking. I wasn’t getting any of that, but all the while, I thought I had a really great job here with a wonderful responsibility, and I didn’t want to walk away from that either. I wanted to get this out. I thought I could retire as a poor broke man, but I love what I do.
Then, after working for David McCormick and the Ernest Tubb record store for two years, Terry Tyson was fired in a late-night email. “People kept telling me that David didn’t keep a manager here for more than two years. I kept huffing and thinking, ‘We’re going to fix this.’ And it was exactly two years and one day after he hired me that he fired me.
It was following Terry Tyson’s dismissal that Robert’s Western World owner JesseLee Jones decided to help David McCormick with the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, and eventually the two entered into a partnership to buy the business and the property. It was this deal between David McCormick and JesseLee Jones that goes awry and ends up in court that resulted in the impending sale of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, putting the future of the business in jeopardy.
“I don’t think any of this would have happened today if he hadn’t fired me. I’d be there, and we’d be rockin’ and rollin’,” Terry said. And a lot of people you talk to about the Record Shop feel the same way. Besides being well known among many country legends, Terry Tyson also helped restore Hank Snow’s Rainbow Ranch in Madison. He currently works as a Merchandise Manager for Richards & Southern, which is a merchandising company that does concert merchandising for many top artists and country bands.
As for the future of Ernest Tubb’s record store, says Terry Tyson,
“I think to save it where it is, someone who buys it would have to put some money behind it because they believe in the historical merit of the building and know they might not get it. not a huge return on its investment, but they are doing something to save this landmark, and save this institution that Ernest Tubb founded I think the store could make some money, but it needs to have someone who believes in it, and let me or someone run this place and really let it go.
Hopefully this benefactor will show up once the Ernest Tubb Record Shop officially goes on sale. Located at 417 Broadway in Nashville, the business was first opened on May 3, 1947 and has been in its current location since 1951. The building itself dates back to the 1850s and was once used as a Civil War hospital .
To celebrate the 75th anniversary, the store is reopening for a celebration.
“We turn 75 today. On May 3, 1947, Mr. Tubb opened the doors to his vision and no one could have foreseen the impact he and the Ernest Tubb Record Shop would have on the musical landscape. Tonight , we are celebrating Mr. Tubb with a very special Jamboree Midnite at 7:00 p.m. We have great guests lined up and the 75th merchandising that will be available during the Jamboree. Our doors open at noon and they will close at 6:00 p.m. to prepare for check-in. will reopen at 7 p.m. and we will all celebrate the way Mr. Tubb would have wanted, with world-class musicians and good old-fashioned live music.
No word yet on when the actual sale will take place.
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Stay tuned to Saving Country Music for updates on the Ernest Tubb Record Shop sale. To sign the petition to save Ernest Tubb’s record store, CLICK HERE.