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Battle Continues Between EPE And Area Retailer

October 26, 2007 | Other
A little more than a year ago, a representative of Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. floated a business proposition to Rick Roberts, the owner of a one-story brick storefront a few steps from Graceland.

The offer reportedly involved buying Robert's Elvis-themed shop Boulevard Souvenirs for about $350,000 and assuming the 13 years remaining on its lease.

Roberts, who developed his independent retail operation at 3706 Elvis Presley Boulevard on land that once was the site of a car repair shop, turned down the request to sell. The store currently is stocked from front to back with trinkets such as old newspapers, T-shirst and mugs, and it grosses about $1 million a year.

But EPER didn't stop there, Roberts' attorney argues in a lawsuit filed earlier this year in US District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. The corporation that officially conducts and manages Elvis-related business recently tweaked the licensing agreements it has in place with merchandise vendors. CKX In.c and Robert FX Sillerman, which acquired an 85 percent ownership of Elvis Presley Enterprises in 2005, were not named in the lawsuit.

License needed

A change that was inserted now prohibits vendors from selling their Elvis ware to unauthorised retailers within a 5-maile radius of Graceland.

"Well, guess who's within a 5-mile radius of Graceland?" said Randy Songstad, the attorney representing Boulevard Souvenirs. "So the vendors said, 'Hey, you you can't do that, they do a lot of money with us' and (EPE) said, 'If you sell to them, we'll take your license.' So the vendors called us up one by one, and said, 'It's killing us, but we can't sell to you.'"

Earlier this month, one of the federal claims filed on behalf of Boulevard Souvenirs - a claim that EPE and vice president of internation licensing Carol Butler were conspiring to eliminate all independently owned retail competitors near Graceland - was dismissed.

Why the conspiracy claim wasn't successful is that under the Sherman Antritrust Act of 1890, a conspiracy involving a busines and an employee can't technically be viewed as a conspiracy. A business, in other words, can't conspire against itself.

EPE did not respond to requests for an interview and stated in a previous e-mail response that no comment would be forthcoming.

... Boulevard Souvenirs is preparing its next move in the court action over what EPE sees as an assertion of more control over its signature product line and what the small store sees as a by EPE to shut it out of the marketplace inappropriately. ...
Source:Memphis Daily News
Viva wrote on October 26, 2007
Nice to see that EPE have lost none of the charm which gave them such a wonderful reputation in the first place.
Bestoftherest8301 wrote on October 27, 2007
I would suggest Rick opens up a warehouse / company outside the 5 mile zone to purchase the goods. Having paid for them he returns them to the suppliers, or instructs them before delivery saying 'no longer required' and instead of a refund he instructs the vendors to send them to Rick's Boulevard Souvenirs as a 'gift' free of charge. Rick then reimburses his warehouse when the stock is sold in his shop. This way the vendors are not 'selling' direct to Rick's shop. Would this be legal?
efan4ever wrote on October 27, 2007
I love that place. It has a lot of cool stuff. I met Joe E. there. I hope it does not close down.
Myluv4Elvis wrote on October 27, 2007
I have visited Boulevard Souvenirs many times since my first trip to Memphis in 1987. I really like his shop and the others that were in front of Graceland. But the truth of the matter is, no matter how we feel about Elvis Presley, he is a multi-million dollar industry and it is strictly business to Elvis Presley Enterprises. They are there to make money. As long as they have done nothing illegal, then they are no different than any other business in America that does what they must to be profitable and survive. Even if it means cutting out the competition. Remember the Walgreen's & Eckerds drug store battles? How about the Wal-mart, Target & K-mart struggle going on now. It is no different.
Rob Nelson wrote on November 01, 2007
hello friends. for what my opinion is worth; I agree with the very basic scenario of EPE protecting their market place. But, if the recent dead celebrities earnings list is any indication then we may state EPE have nothing to worry about. Elvis' popularity is growing. Furthermore, business is cold hearted business, agreed, but, my suggestion to EPE would be to embrace and design a solid working agreement with some of the proven players. This fellow at Boulevard Souvenirs has built a solid reputation with collectors. My old school thoughts in closing here, indeed, cash register receipts are tangible proof at the end of the day but, what about "goodwill" (?). Thanks again for the privilege of posting my thoughts here. Happy November 1st to all.
Devon wrote on November 03, 2007
You may not agree with me but here goes. This is why Lisa should never have sold any thing to CSX, it is all about the money now and not about Elvis. And you watch how bad it gets in the near future. They have lost sight of Elvis and now have doller sighns in there eyes. So sad