Reader reaction to EPE legal challenge
Reaction to Boulevard Souvenirs suing EPE: There has been a strong reaction to news of EPE apparently trying to force Boulevard Souvenirs out of business. Last year EPE did not renew the lease of Memories of Elvis/Carol's Gifts and Collectibles, another long established Elvis outlet opposite Graceland. This forced Carol to move premises away from Graceland and sadly she announced recently she is closing her doors for good.
Fans have vocal about the latest market move by EPE. From "stormtrooper tactics", bully boys", and "Graceland is Greedland", to "Sillerman Gecko" and "Disgraceland" (a term originally coined by Elvisly Yours' Sid Shaw), fans reaction has been far from positive.
EIN wonders what Elvis would make of all this. I think we all know the answer! (EIN Comment)
Boulevard Souvenirs suing EPE: A souvenir shop next door to Graceland accuses Elvis Presley Enterprises of federal monopoly violations, restraint of trade, conspiracy and tortious interference.
Boulevard Souvenirs, which has 13 years remaining on its lease on Elvis Presley Boulevard, claims co-defendant Carol Butler, vice president of international licensing for Elvis Presley Enterprises, has been trying to force it out of business for years.
Rick Roberts, who founded Boulevard in 2000, says vendors told him that in January this year that defendants demanded that licensees of Elvis products refuse to sell to anyone else within 5 miles of Graceland.
He cites a letter the defendants allegedly sent to vendors, saying the ostensible reason for this antitrust violation is to “prevent the commingling of Licensed Products with counterfeit goods”.
Unless vendors of licensed products signed the letter, Elvis Presley Enterprises threatened to terminate them, he says. Now all of his vendors have cut him off. He says he was grossing $1 million a year. He demands $13 million for 13 years of lost profits, and $26 million in punitive damages.
He is represented by Randall Songstad of Arlington, Tenn. (Sale of EPE, Source: Courthouse News/Elvis Express)
See the Complaint
Denise Cineros: ithink what epe is doing is wrong and elvis would be so against it, he was a person with so much love for his fans and how elvis worked so hard for everything he had and for epe to be so greedy and money hungry, dont you think they make enough? elvis would be so upset what epe is going to his fans.
Tonia K: Lets all of us vote with our feet and wallets and not buy from EPE stores.
Gary Franks: What EPE is doing may be morally wrong but I'd put money on them winning in court.
Billy C: In the classic words "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"
Bob Houseman: Why should EPE care what we think? Hardcore fans don't make up most of their profits. It is the casual buyer-tourist who visits Graceland. Yeah its sad what's happening but that's the way the world iis. We should just get over it and get on with appreciating Elvis' music.
Sally Browning: If EPE keeps on as it is fans are going to desert them in droves. If Elvis was still here he would be so disappointed at the way EPE is treating his fans.
Sue Aronsen: Tell EPE I refuse to buy from them anymore. I'm disgusted at the way they treat people.
Ida Ritter: I am again not surprised about the actions of EPE. They still believe they are in an era where Power and Money moves everything. So many things already happened but they still do not get the message from the fans and the world.
As a fan I have gone to Memphis 3 or 4 times, and every time never made any big purchases at Graceland, their prices were too high, I could find most of those things a lot shipper in the other shops. Even the Grill restaurant, I never ate there but some friends told me it was very expensive and the food not that great.
EPE is all about money, they have no respect for the fans or their feelings, all they care is to take away anything that steps in their way, they want to be in control of everything. I hope this time Boulevard will win this case and really hope that at least one time they will learn a lesson. They will drive all of fans away with their stupid attitude and control.
If Elvis could see from whatever he is all of this, I wonder what he will say to all the ones in control now of the empire that one time belong only to him. What will he say to Priscilla and to his daughter for all their actions, with the people he love the most: HIS FANS
Tom George: We should cut Sillerman some slack. He paid a huge sum of money for his stake in EPE and he has to get his money back as soon as he can. Wouldn't we all do the same?
Dorothy Deans: Its time to resell EPE to someone who cares about the fans and doesnt just want to make money. Even Colonel Parker wasnt that bad.
Patti Bruins: I feel sad when I think where Elvis will be if EPE keeps on going the way they are. Its not right and Robert Sillerman, Priscilla and Jack Soden need to sit down and talk it all out before they lose fans altogether.
Cheryl D: Bill Burk is right. Its David vs. Goliath but I'll bet with a different ending.
Bill E. Burk: WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE? WHY does the elephant want to stomp on the ant?
BOULEVARD SOUVENIRS, in business since 2000 at 3706 EP Blvd in Memphis, right next to Graceland, has filed suit in U. S. District Court seeking $13 million for past and future losses due to what it calls EPE's "heavy-handed ways," plus $26 million in punitive damages.
The lawsuit lists EPE, corporately, and Carol Butler, EPE's international VP of licensing, individually.
At the heart of the lawsuit is a letter sent out by EPE in January 2007 demanding all licensees of Elvis product immediately cease selling to any non-EPE owned shops within 5 miles of Graceland.
Suddenly, BS owners Rick and Renae Roberts said they were getting letters from their many vendors expressing regret they could no longer sell product to BS, which has a normal inventory of $350,000 in licensed Elvis goods.
(Across Memphis, a good 20+ miles away, Carol Light, former owner of Memories of Elvis in the Graceland Crossing center across from BS, says she is being forced to close her current shop in Bartlett for basically the same reason --- that EPE has put heavy pressure on its licensed vendors to not sell to Light.)
BS' lawsuit claims EPE approached them in January 2006 offering to buy out the remaining years of its lease, plus all its inventory. The offer was refused.
In its suit, BS states "BS prices are substantially lower than EPE stores" . . . and the "defendants have conspired in order to maximize profits for the (upcoming) 30th anniversary and beyond."
THIS ALL has a KING MIDAS ring to it. Surely the elephant can't fear the ant will drive it out of business ?
EW will keep you informed as this case progresses within the legal system.
It is somewhat remindful of Sid Shaw's 19-year battle vs. EPE, but while Shaw won his case(s), there is a heavy difference between law in British courts and U. S. Courts.
In the U.S., it's referred to as the "Law of Deep Pockets," meaning the more money you have (and EPE has an endless supply), the longer you can drag things out in court and drain your opponent's finances dry.
Shaw, using imagination, found a way around the Deep Pockets in England.
STILL, having driven Memories of Elvis and another shop out of Graceland Crossing some 18 months ago left only Boulevard Souvenirs open as an alternative to the fans . . . and what little BS brings in $$$s-wise is but an extremely tiny dent in EPE's overall earnings.
CAN'T SOMEONE show a little heart here ... and live and let live?
Patrick Booth: Business is business! We can't blame EPE.
Amanda Curtis, Elvis Has Left The Building...fan club: Why mess with Carol?: I am sorry EPE 'sold out' a large portion to another force who is flooding the market wih crap Elvis stuff. Unlike Carol, who has nice items. Sorry to see her go.
Brian Quinn: Personally, I think that Bob Sillerman and EPE are doing the right thing. They need to have a corporate approach to the Graceland complex and cannot afford to have individual businesses 'coining in'. Bob Sillerman is the best thing to happen to the Elvis World ever. Now if only he could purchase Elvis' Catalogue from Sony BMG!!!!!
John Freehills: If you read the complaint carefully Boulevard is not sueing to stay in business. It seems it, like EPE, it is just after the money.
Curtis Berne: The allmighty dollar. How it corrupts!
Meredith: EPE has lost the plot. Long time fans have been the backbone of the Elvis world for over 50 years and they treat us like crap. They need some people running EPE who have forsight, not $ sight.
Rockin' Robin Rosaaen " All The King's Things": I've been going to Memphis each year since 1978 and it's sad that over the years EPE and their almighty need for greed and total control has sent folks like The Wooden Indian, Loose Ends & Memories of Elvis into "no business" is show business and at least those shops remebered your name when you came in and when you spend $$$$ that the Graceland gift shops that could care less who you are, as it's all about how much profit and money they make off the fans with their over priced mass prodcued crap sounviners that are worth less to the Elvis fan who has been around for years buying from the indepentdants and helping to support them and stay in business. I am afraid that after the 30th anniversary there will be BIG changes that will drive more Elvis fans away from Elvis Week. TCB
Margart Vurdue: Shame on EPE!!!
Bill Turner: Why is anyone surprised at EPE's attempt to corner the market? What else did we expect even before Bob Sillerman bought the rights?
Bethany: I go to Elvis Week each year and I am saddened that another friendly business is being forced out. Elvis will be turning in his grave.
Sue Graves: Elvis fans should take a stand and boycott the EPE run stores. Let's show them we care about those they are forcing out of business.
Chad Heywood: In Australia Derryn Hinch said it best "Shame! Shame! Shame!
Dianne: This is so disappointing. Buying Elvis things used to be a real joy but not anymore.
Frank Purcell: What EPE is doing is just part of the capitalist system. Any of us in business would do the same. If we choose to live in a free market we have to take the good with the bad.
Penny Franks: Fan clubs are deserting Graceland and it won't be long before the fans do too. EPE has a shortsighted view on how it needs to move forward and in the end I'm sure it will be proven wrong when its Elvis memorabilia stops selling in big numbers.
Adele: Most of the EPE stuff is crap anyway.
Tania Wrightman: The Elvis world has been changing for a long time now, ever since Elvis died. EPE's greed and couldn't care less about others attitude are the latest examples of why things aren't as good as they used to be.
John I.: We have a choice. Don't buy the EPE merchandise and they might sit up and take notice.
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