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Annoyance Theatre's Exit Left a 'Void' on Broadway, Business Owners Say

By Adeshina Emmanuel | September 24, 2013 9:46am
 Ric Addy said his quaint book and record store was hurt when the Annoyance Theatre and Bar left Uptown.
Shake Rattle and Read
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UPTOWN — The Annoyance Theatre and Bar's departure from Uptown and pending move to Lakeview's Belmont Theatre District didn't only leave a hole in Uptown's entertainment district.

Ric Addy said he's been having a "tough" and "slow" September at Shake Rattle & Read, a quaint Uptown store at 4812 N. Broadway that has sold used books, records and collectibles next to the Uptown Theatre for 47 years.

"I think part of the problem was that the Annoyance Theatre moved from down the street," said the shop's owner. "When they moved out, there was a void. It's been there for about three or four weeks now."

The Annoyance used to reside a few storefronts south of Addy's shop at 4830 N. Broadway. The venue, which put on its last show in late August, held improv lessons on its second floor.

The classes brought "these 20-something-year-old guys and girls" to Shake Rattle & Read, Addy said. Annoyance students would come in before and after class to "buy plays and buy drama books and records," Addy said.

He estimates that spillover from the Annoyance brought at least 10 to 15 customers a day to his store, which used to be called The Book Box before he bought it from his sister in 1986.

But now the students are absent.

The spectacled bookstore owner and alt-country musician said "the only thing" he could do to attract customers was keep the store's Facebook page interesting, spread the the word that he had "cool stuff" coming in to the shop and spruce up the window display from time to time.

Addy acknowledged that 10 to 15 customers fewer per day was "a serious loss" for a small business owner, even one who's well known in the area and operates a beloved business with deep roots in the community.

He said the last time he remembered Shake Rattle & Read suffering such a drastic drop in business was when brokerage firm Aon decided to sell the now-vacant Combined Insurance building at 5050 N. Broadway and move its employees Downtown.

Employees at the firm would walk over to Shake Rattle & Read on their lunch breaks to browse what the store had in stock, Addy recalls.

Other business owners also miss the Annoyance's presence on Broadway.

The Annoyance was "a good neighbor" that brought a lot of people to the area, said Brian Wells, one of the co-owners of Crew Bar and Grill, 4804 N. Broadway, a few doors south of Addy's shop. Wells said he's noticed less foot traffic on Broadway since the venue left Uptown.

"It's been tough on my strip," Addy said.