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EPE Buys Out BLVD Souvenirs Property

August 24, 2008 | Other
Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. has bought a property that sits next to Graceland and houses a souvenir shop whose owners sued EPE last year for conspiracy to eliminate competitors.

EPE paid $465,000 for 3706 Elvis Presley Blvd. from the Jefan Trust of Boca Raton, Fla., with Susan Sandelman as trustee.

Formerly an auto service garage, the 4,000-square foot store was built in 1975 and sits on approximately one-third of an acre due north of Graceland. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal is $168,200.
The space is now leased by Boulevard Souvenirs, which is owned by Rick and Renae Roberts. Boulevard Souvenirs had leased the property from Global Real Estate LLC until EPE bought the assignment of rents and leases from Global Real Estate earlier this year. Those assignments state that the tenant’s lease is $1,178.33 per month.

Calls to EPE were not returned by press time.

Not a big shock
When reached by phone Friday morning, Renae Roberts wasn’t surprised to hear EPE finally succeeded in acquiring the real estate. “That doesn’t surprise me because of all the appraisers that were coming through (in recent months),” Roberts said. “I mean, come on, they’re bigger than us. We’re not exactly dumb.”

“I mean, come on, they’re bigger than us. We’re not exactly dumb.”
– Renae Roberts
Proprietor, Boulevard Souvenirs
EPE has been acquiring properties surrounding Graceland and beyond as part of its plans for a $250 million Tourist Development Zone. The company in 2006 offered to buy the Roberts’ business and assume the roughly 13 years remaining on the lease. The Roberts declined. The couple even reached out to the previous owner about acquiring the site themselves, efforts that were repeatedly rebuffed.

“We’ve been trying to buy this property ever since we moved in it,” Renae Roberts said. “They just kept telling us it’s not for sale.”

Tension builders
EPE’s attempt to buy the Boulevard Souvenirs business and Rick and Renae Roberts’ refusal to move created tension among the parties. The situation heated up last fall when EPE revised its distribution contracts so distributors were no longer allowed to sell licensed merchandise to vendors not approved by EPE within a five-mile radius of Graceland. That included Boulevard Souvenirs.

A claim was filed in federal court last year on behalf of Boulevard Souvenirs – a non-EPE-approved vendor – that EPE and vice president of international licensing Carol Butler were conspiring to eliminate all independently owned retail competitors near Graceland, but that lawsuit was eventually dismissed.

Since the brouhaha, Boulevard Souvenirs has had a sign hanging in its window affirming the 12 years remaining on its lease at the store – something Roberts said they plan to honor.

“We have no intention of vacating, we have no intention of leaving,” she said. “We have intentions of being there, not only for the 12 years, because we also have a stipulation in our lease that we can request a five-year extension.

“Right now we’re sitting tight.”
Source:Commercial Appeal
Jumpin Jehosaphat wrote on August 24, 2008
shame Elvis Presley would never have hurt the little guy,
SuziB wrote on August 24, 2008
JJ, that's a ridiculous statement. EPE is a busines and has a legal right to protect his P&L, indeed actually as with all ,has a legal obligation to maximise shareholder value. Besides its clear the owner of this junk store is only motivated by being bought out an an excessive proce, hence the statement " right now we're sitting tight". If anyone is attempting to 'cash in' or can be accused of profiteering its what you term the "small guy". Good luck to EPE in ridding the world of peddlars of tat (hopefully they learn from this also) and good luck with the redevelopment of Whitehaven and its own operational development.
commoneverybody wrote on August 24, 2008
Well, this store happened to be the only decent gift shop where you could buy DIFFEREND things than the trash sold in the Graceland shops. Too bad EPE finally won....
elvislives72 wrote on August 24, 2008
Hurray to EPE!!! Now the expansion process can finally get underway!
Brian Quinn wrote on August 24, 2008
A good move by EPE.
Harvey Alexander wrote on August 25, 2008
Now they have the monopoly to sell all of their crapola in every shop on the Boulevard. Talk about muscling in and putting the screws on the little guys. This Sillyman bloke sounds like Hitler to me...
Getlow wrote on August 25, 2008
commoneverybody is absolutley correct, on occasion you'll find some nice items such as older Tunzi books that I may have missed first time around or some other nice things. In general, I liked that shop. Now I am to be bombarded by E and Cilla barbie dolls - horrible!!!!!!!!
SuziB wrote on August 25, 2008
Comparing anyone to Hitler is crass and ignorant in the extreme, particularly somoene who is Jewish, and who has establisged charitable foundations to safeguard the rghts and lives of the underpriveleged.
fordy wrote on August 25, 2008
I agree with you Getlow and Commoneverybody. It's a shame to see these independant stores disappear. Now we are just going to have the same products over and over again, and at the top price if i'm not surprised. Competition is good for the buyers like us, variety (good and bad), for a competative price. When visiting these stores it was always good to find the out of print collectors books, or unusual t-shirts, or even the occasional Elvis associate not attending the official EPE events. SUZIB, you'll regret your choice of words. I see where you're coming from but in saying 'EPE in ridding the world of peddlars of tat', what do you call the items EPE selling at the present time. As Elvis said "There's room for everybody". Variety is the spice of life!
TBG wrote on August 25, 2008
SuzieB, what u are writing is crap! And it's only in America that this way of thinking of accepted. First of all, they have NO legal obligation to maximise shareholder value. But of course that's what the management wants to do, because then they get bonuses as well. If they did not get any bonus, they would not care about maximising shareholder value. What EPE is doing is eliminating all competition, so that they can charge more money for the crap they are selling (Elvis and Cilla barbie dolls, trash cans, pens and all kinds of other stuff that makes people laugh at Elvis..). The shop in question is a quality shop that sell merchandise much better than what EPE does. EPE wouldn't have any problems competing against that shop if they sold quality items, which they rarely do. Come on, we're talking about a country (USA) where you're not even allowed to sell a cat named Elvis and advertise for it, because EPE owns the rights to the name Elvis. In UK they tried to close down Elvisly Yours shop, but fortunately in Europe we still have democracy and competition (all though one might some times wonder ;-)) but in USA it is ALL about the mighty DOLLAR$$$
Palle wrote on August 25, 2008
So what kind of material do they sell? Better looking Elvis ducks? The only thing these shops should sell (and the fans should buy) are cd's, dvd's and books !
Brian Quinn wrote on August 25, 2008
I have said it before and will say it again - Bob Sillerman is the best thing EVER to happen to Elvis Presley after Sam Phillips.
davrid wrote on August 25, 2008
TBG research your facts. Actually, maximising shareholder value is a legal requirement - it is enshrined in the constituion of every stock exchange in the world, and is a requirement of being listed, as is acting in the best interests of shareholders. EPE is not eliminating competion - this is contrary to company law which states that no business may exercise control over a market through price or contractual control ie pressuring supliers torestrict trade. EPE is protecting the rights of its investment - why would anyone expect a corporation to support its competition? I suggest you study business before espousng such drivel.
Steve V wrote on August 25, 2008
Brian - ridiculous comparison. Not even worth commenting. And TBG, great USA bashing. It always warms my heart to hear someone from another country bash the USA. I guess we never helped out your country ever, be it militarily or economically or just dumb old USA tourists helping feed your economy. Elvis would not be proud. Think the American Eagle jumpsuit.
elvislives72 wrote on August 25, 2008
What Colonel Parker did was turn Elvis into a laughing stock not EPE or Bob Sillerman. Think of all those silly movie rolls he FORCED Elvis to play in, and yes he did force him. Think of the overseas deals he killed for Elvis because of him being an illegal alien. It was the Colonel who sold tacky items with anyting Elvis on it. The Colonel was the one all about money while Bob Sillerman is all about fixing the Colonel's dumb mistakes to make Elvis more appreciated and accepted. You guys think what EPE sells is tacky or making people laugh at Elvis, think again. It's their merchandise and marketing ways that's kept him alive for the past 31 years. I don't always agree with their ways but it's working and that's all that matters. That's what's influencing new and younger fans everyday who go there. EPE is actually doing it right if you stop and think about it. It's RCA who's doing it all wrong with their multiple compilations with the same amount of limited songs. Once EPE gets their new museum and visitor center built and control and cleanup in the rundown area things will look so much different from all aspects concerning Elvis and the Graceland image. Without Bob Sillerman none of this would be possible. Like Brian said, Bob Sillerman is the BEST thing to happen to Elvis in a very long time. The future is as brighter as it's ever been. As far as the gift shops go, they will still be around, most likely tied in with EPE's new plans. They plan on having multiple gift shops so it's not the end of an era. EPE isn't trying to stop competition. They needed all the land they could get to make their expansion become a reality and the Graceland Crossing was in the way of that so it had to be bought up to be removed for redeveloping. I expect the shop to remain operational but in a new location. From my understanding, there's plans are to have all Elvis themed attractions (state-of-the-art hi-tech interactive museums, planes, visitors center, a new and much larger elaborate Heartbreak Hotel, gift shops, etc) all on the east side of EP Boulevard (opposite of where it's all at now). Everything on the west side will be more luxury hotels and restuarants and a convention center.
memoriesoftheking wrote on August 25, 2008
I have visited Boulevard Souvenirs many times. The owners and very nice. They have lots of items (better items) that the EPE shops don't carry and the items that are the same are much cheaper at Blvd. Sometimes 50% cheaper! So competition does have some to do with it. I agree that EPE wants the property most of all. But don't expect construction to begin at once. Sillerman recently said that it could be up to two years away before they begin. The owners had said they would not relocate. The other shops that use to be in front of Heartbreak Hotel tried relocating after being forced out by EPE, and their businesses failed because they were not close enough to Graceland. It's a shame something could not be worked out. The last of the independent Elvis shops.
elvislives72 wrote on August 26, 2008
Memoriespftheking-I don't know where you heard that about a 2 year wait till things begin, but from what he told the Memphis officials was that he hopes to have it done within the next 2-3 years and that the apartments they own are gonna be demolished by year's end. He said himself in his video log that everything's moving fast as it is and that things will be changing very soon. The poor US economy is what's slowed things down a little. But he also iterated that it won't stop their plans or slow it down to a standstill, that they're moving forward with the plans.
John4126 wrote on August 26, 2008
Steve V - keep the politics out. Hey, you know i agree with the majortiy of the time but dont go down that road.
Steve V wrote on August 26, 2008
John - u are right and I am the first person who would say to keep politics out of the site, but it was the second USA bashing I read in the last week and I got carried away with a bit of anger. Sorry.