Dan and Judy Singleton, along with their son Chris, recently opened in Clifton what they believe to be the only Beatles-focused shop in America. The store features everything from vintage Beatles memorabilia such as lunchboxes and figurines to vinyl records, shirts, jewelry, signs and more. Plenty more.
It’s almost mind-boggling to walk into the place, especially if you’re a Beatles fanatic like Dan, who became obsessed at age 4 when he saw the band on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
“Two-nine-1964,” Dan responds, reeling off the date, when asked about that night. Asked if he still remembers it, he quickly says, “Like it was yesterday.”
So, what exactly was it that made such an impression that it literally has lasted a lifetime?
“The music,” he says. “The songs they played, particularly that day.”
For the record, on that first American appearance, the band performed six songs, opening with “All My Loving” and closing with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Sixty percent of American televisions were tuned in, and the band became an instant nationwide phenomenon.
Four-year-old Dan was sucked in right along with everyone else. And this is why he always knew he would one day open a Beatles-themed store. He works as a post office manager and part-time sheriff’s deputy, while his wife, Judy, works for the University of Louisville and is an adjunct instructor there.
That’s what pays the bills, but the Beatles come first, especially if Dan’s legendary man cave is as impressive as advertised.
Dan says he won third place in a national contest for his Beatles-meets-Hard-Rock-Café motif.
“This store is actually an extension of my man cave,” he admits.
Judy notes the goal is to make Octopus’s Garden — named for a Ringo Starr song that appeared on the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album — more than just a neighborhood store. The plan is to eventually expand into an online store with merchandise not available in the brick-and-mortar.
In addition, monthly events will take place, with the first in conjunction with the kick-off of Abbey Road on the River. Beatles scholar Aaron Krerowicz led a discussion of the album and film “A Hard Day’s Night.”
“We want to make it more of an experience for people,” Judy says.
The couple also is open to consignment. For instance, most of the vintage relics are consigned items, along with several pieces from well-known designer Russ Lease, who specializes in Beatles gear.
“I know him from buying so much stuff from him,” Dan says.
But first and foremost, there’s the experience of the store itself, which is what Beatles heaven must look like. There are pictures and logo merchandise everywhere. There are Beatles high-top Chuck Taylor tennis shoes. There are Beatles onesies. There are locally crafted, Beatles-themed soaps — local artisans are encouraged to consign their Beatle-themed products, as well.
Beatles wine charms? Yep, right next to the guitar straps.
“We’re always getting interesting new things in,” Judy says.
A room in the back is set up for events, and the room adjacent is an impressive display of guitars like those used by the band (yes, there’s a Hofner violin bass for sale in the store if you have a spare $800) as well as a 1960s-era vintage TV cabinet equipped with a flatscreen. A DVD of the Beatles’ first appearance on “Ed Sullivan” sits at the ready.
Octopus’s Garden almost opened four years ago when Dan and Judy found a location in the Highlands they liked. They put together most of a business plan, but the deal fell through, so they went back to waiting for the right place. They were walking down Frankfort Avenue one day during Christmas shopping season and noticed the little red brick building at 2033 Frankfort was for lease.
They worked with the Louisville Small Business Development Center to finish up the business plan and get the financials in place, and the store was opened four months later, with the help of family, including their son, who is co-owner and the team’s “tech guy.”
The question now is, are there enough Beatles fans in Louisville and the surrounding areas to make Octopus’s Garden a viable business more than just a novelty?
“I guess we’ll see,” Judy says.
Dan looks around and says, “If this doesn’t go, my man cave will probably double in size.”
Octopus’s Garden is open Tuesday through Friday, noon-7 p.m., Saturday, noon-5 p.m., and Sunday, 1-4 p.m.