Money Tree

Bill Fry sorts through CDs on Wednesday at the front counter of the Money Tree/Book & Music Exchange in Owensboro.

With more than 50 years as a family-owned business in Owensboro, Money Tree Book and Music Exchange continues to provide a physical shopping experience in today’s digital age.

Located at 1421 Triplett St., the store celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.

“It started off as a consignment shop for clothes and things of that nature, and 50 years ago the owners saw an interest in people wanting books, and back then I imagine it was 8-tracks,” Manager Bill Fry said while standing behind the store’s counter. “They changed their business model after a year or two to records, books, magazines and things like that.”

That business model of selling new and used comics, vinyl records, gaming consoles and collectables has served owners David and Anita Osborne well through the years. At one time there two Money Tree stores in Owensboro, three in Louisville, two in Evansville, one in Henderson and one in New Albany.

Today, the Owensboro-based chain operates its flagship Owensboro store as well as two locations in Louisville.

While new vinyl is stocked from time to time, Fry said the majority of Money Tree’s stock continues to be used media it purchases from customers.

“We get stuff all the time,” he said. “We have people that bring us in stuff to trade, we have people that bring us in stuff to sell.”

The record selection at Money Tree, which ranges from classic rock bands like The Who and Deep Purple to country classics by Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton, has been bulked up from records that had been in the company’s warehouse after other locations closed.

In his 13 years of employment, Fry said there have been some ebbs and flows to the business, with certain items falling off while other things become more popular.

“With eBay, Amazon, Redbox, especially with Redbox and Netflix, movie sales have gone down, which we expected,” Fry said. “The majority of stuff we see people looking for is the older stuff that you can’t find on streaming services.”

Collectables have also fluctuated through the years.

“Collectables have gone up and down because of eBay,” he said. “For example, when COVID-19 hit, everybody needed money, and everyone was selling stuff cheap. Well, once everybody got money, people jacked prices up. We are seeing older game systems doubling in price from three years ago.”

The internet age and online shopping has been beneficial for Money Tree in some ways. By selling items on eBay, the store is able to reach a broader audience and sell things that might have sat for years in one of the retail stores.

“It gave us an avenue to take stuff and sell stuff that we normally wouldn’t take,” Fry said.

While Money Tree still has customers coming in to buy books, vinyl records and comic books make up the bulk of business.

“Comics, vinyl albums and video games,” Fry said. “Those are the top three sellers, and then movies come in a little bit below that.”

While online shopping remains a popular option for some, a brick-and-mortar store like Money Tree still has a lot to offer.

“Especially for collectors, it is the joy of actually going through stuff and looking for things,” Fry said. “Comic book collectors and vinyl collectors both like that, they like looking through the boxes and going through everything.”

Fry said those who choose to come into the store also have the opportunity to see something they might not have realized they wanted or even knew existed, something that doesn’t quite happen as easily in the online shopping world.

“You can’t do that in a digital age,” he said. “You can browse, but you can’t actually see it.”

Nathan Havenner, Messenger-Inquirer, nhavenner@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-228-2837

Nathan Havenner, Messenger-Inquirer, nhavenner@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-228-2837

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