Big changes coming for two iconic Louisville businesses

Published: Aug. 1, 2019 at 9:05 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Major changes are coming for two iconic downtown Louisville businesses: Joe Ley Antiques and Caufield’s Novelty.

The good news for Caufield’s fans is that the store is not closing. But the building on 1006 Main Street is up for sale. Caufield’s needs a smaller location to move to because independent stores they were selling stock to are going out of business as more shoppers are buying online.

From Zoltar the fortune teller to the always-creepy dungeon and specialty make-up with an artist on-site to help you, Caufield’s, with its giant bat on the building, is a one-of-a-kind place and Louisville’s Halloween and costume destination.

“Our tag line is, ‘For the Unusual,'” owner Tracy Caufield Johnson said.

Longtime shopper James Lynn told WAVE 3 News why he’s been visiting for years.

“I had always been fascinated with magic,” he said. Lynn shopped at the first Caufield’s location on South Third Street when he was young, and takes his grandchildren now.

“Things change, you know?” he said.

Added Caufield Johnson: “It’s a large building and a great location.” Now, the company’s 32,000-square-foot space, used since 1987, is too large to support utilities and upkeep for the retail store, and all the stock most customers don’t see, which is part of Caufield’s wholesale business.

For years, they’ve sold to small independents.

"Those independent stores are all going out of business," Caufield Johnson said. Due to the convenience of online sellers like Amazon, Caufield's was forced to adapt and follow that trend, too.

“We actually sell on Amazon, however, when we sell something on Amazon, our profit margin is very small, because we have to pay them a fee and there are always price wars on Amazon,” she said.

After nine decades in business, owners are counting on shoppers like Lynn who like to see before they buy.

“If you buy something online,” Lynn said, “it might be broke or something.”

For Caufield’s, the goal is to keep the scares coming. The company has had three locations: South Third Street, Market Street until the Convention Center expanded, moving them to Main Street. The big bat is negotiable with the building, priced by RE/MAX at just over $2 million.

While Caufield’s is not closing, Joe Ley Antiques will, eventually.

People come from all over the country to seek out the store’s one-of-a-kind finds. Ley told WAVE 3 News that although the building is for sale, it has not sold yet, but he hopes once something is in the works, he will be able to sell the antiques and specialty items in six months to a year with special sales.

He said his age and declining health are among the reasons.

“I’ve got cancer in the spine, prostate cancer and I’m on dialysis three times a week,” Ley said. “Basically, I’m worn out.”

Ley, who said he loves Louisville and his customers, added that now might be a good time to shop if you’ve had your eye on one of his store’s specialty items.

Copyright 2019 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.