Picking Charlotte

A few months ago, Lloyd got a tip about a warehouse in Charlotte that was used years ago by Kostakes Novelty Company. The operator was no longer living and the building had been unused for many years. A tiny place in comparison to the modern buildings surrounding it, the owner had a contract to sell the land with plans to tear down the building for redevelopment. The contents were available for sale.

The Old Charlotte warehouse

I am not sure what year the company opened, but there is a reference to Kostakes moving to this location in a 1949 edition of The Billboard. A 1961 issue of The Billboard mentions George Kostakes and Vita Vespoint of Kostakes Music attending an AMI Continental showing in Roanoke. A later edition from 1968, indicates the company has morphed into Kostakes-Piedmont Music, but was still owned by George Kostakes. The route had been sold in the 1980s when George passed away and the building had been closed since.

The Billboard notice of relocation for Kostakes Novelty Co

People had been in the building to pick before Lloyd learned of this location.  Several of Lloyd’s friends in North Carolina knew about the location before he got the tip, but thought the building has already been torn down.

Lloyd sent his son, Benjamin, down there with a truck and trailer to meet the owner and the man who was brokering the deal. Lloyd and I planned to join him the next day to help load the purchases.

When Ben arrived, he went inside and saw immediately that there was a hole in the roof, so large that sunlight was streaming in. The rain had poured into the building for so long that a portion of the floor had collapsed into the basement of the building, taking a Wurlitzer 1100 down with it. Surprisingly, the owner did not want to sell that machine, in spite of its poor condition.

Sunlight shining through the holes in the ceiling

Ben checked out the backroom and took this photo before removing anything. He found 30 Rockola jukeboxes from the 60’s and 70’s.

There were five 1946 Seeburg Hideaways against the back wall.

Five Seeburg Hideaways

One of the most special things in the building was a 1930s Seeburg K that had been given to George as a test machine. It was the first of these that Ben had ever seen, but sadly, it was nearly destroyed by the rain that had fallen upon it for so long. A Seeburg K is so rare that hardly anyone would even need the parts that could be salvaged from it.

Ben went down into the basement and could see that it had flooded at one point and had ruined many valuable machines and parts. There were two Seeburg Speak Organs that had suffered damage from the flood, but he saved them for the rare wireless units inside of them. A 1943 edition of The Billboard advertises used Seeburg Speak Organs for $49.50, which was a lot of money back then, especially for something in used condition!

Someone had gone in at one point and taken out all the slot machines, but had left behind the slot stands and hundreds of slot keys.

Behind one of the work benches, Ben found the remains of 3 Rockola 1426s, a Wurlitzer 700,  a 750, and a Seeburg trashcan.

Jukebox remains

He also found a Wurlitzer 71 grill.

Wurlitzer 71 grill

There were ten Mills Penny Scales from the 1930’s, 2 of each color. There were ten Wurlitzer 1015 speakers and 3 perfect Seeburg Teardrop speakers hiding above the bathroom.

Ben found 2 new in the box Seeburg pre-war wallboxes for 8800 and 9800 jukeboxes, that had been purchased for a bar in Asheville, NC and were unopened.

New Old Stock Wallboxes

NOS wallbox when the box was opened

Although Ben found a box of jukebox manuals and brochures for 1930s pinballs, the owner had hired a crew to come in and fill 2 dumpsters full of “trash” before Ben arrived, so there is no telling how many valuable collectibles were destroyed in the days before we arrived.

Flyers

Ben found jukebox motors, amplifiers and all sorts of parts for machines from the 1930s and 1940s. The bases of Packard Pla-Mors had been used as pallets to lift jukeboxes up off the floor, but the tops of the jukeboxes were nowhere to be found.

Amplifiers in the basement

In addition, there were boxes of records that had been sitting since the 1960’s. There were 150,000 records in there!

150,000 records!

We were all set to leave home and join Ben when he called to say that he had found some help for loading and could handle it without Lloyd’s help. He was so excited about his find that the adrenaline was flowing, and he worked straight through the day without eating, loading the pickup and the trailer full and driving all the way back to Hagerstown the same night. Ben had left Maryland on Thursday evening, got home with the first load Friday night, unloaded Saturday morning and drove right back again for load number two. In all, he filled the truck and the trailer three times before he was done.

The bed of Ben’s truck when filled with the first load

Lloyd was excited about the records. He was sure that there would be some valuable collectible records hidden among the thousands of more common titles. We discussed how to price them. Lloyd did not feel that he had the time or the staff to sell each of the records individually, so he decided to offer them for 25 cents a piece, which worked out to $250 for 1,000 records. Some dealers came to look at purchasing all of them, but wanted to negotiate for a lower price, which Lloyd declined.

One Pennsylvania collector bought 3,000 records from the lot for $750. Lloyd warned him that there would be some warped records from heat, but he took them anyway. After taking the records home and looking through them, this buyer decided to return the boxes of “warped records” and exchange them for different boxes of records.

What he didn’t know was that Lloyd knew that the buyer was cherry picking out the most rare and valuable records from each box, selling them on Ebay, and then trying to return  all of the less valuable records to exchange for a new lot to cherry pick again. Of the records that this buyer had already sold on Ebay from our Charlotte load was one that went for $1,235.00, one for $926.00, and another for $900.00. Those only represent 3 of over 50 records he had sold out of the boxes he purchased from us! Not a bad return on his $750.00 investment, but not good enough for him to deal fairly with Lloyd.

The last time this buyer returned for more records, he wanted to exchange some he had already bought.  Lloyd had just learned that his elderly father had passed away and he was in no mood to be jerked around. Upset enough to begin with and knowing that the records were bringing way more than his customer had paid him, Lloyd told him that he knew what he was doing and to never come back. Lloyd occasionally fires customers whom he feels haven’t treated him fairly!

It turned out that our Charlotte purchase contained many rare and very collectible “Northern Soul” titles.  Since they tend to be rather unknown titles that had limited commercial success in the US, released in small quantities in specific regions of this country, we just got really lucky with these records. The original vinyl 45 copies of these tunes played in British dance clubs are very desirable. To learn more about Northern Soul music, you can visit this site:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_soul

Since the discovery of so many rare and desirable titles, we have begun to search through the records for those worth listing on Ebay, and they will become available as we find them.  Amanda has listed a couple of hundred of them over the past few weeks, and Lloyd sorts through a few boxes each day.

Our treasure hunt continues!

 

 

 

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