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Effective Monday the Parish will be the first music venue in Austin, Texas, auctioned off on eBay, according to business owner Doug Guller.
With the starting bid at just a single dollar, the venue will sell for over $370,000.
To be clear, the actual property located on historic Sixth Street isn’t included in the deal. The ATX Brands CEO said the buyer will take on a 12-year lease with two five-year renewal options. The sale includes two large bars and green rooms, as well as a private office, venue furniture, and an HD projector and screen. The 5,300-square-foot, 425-capacity venue is also booked through next year, and buyers will either have to purchase their own liquor license or acquire one from Guller.
While the bidding began at $1, there was an undisclosed reserve price for the sale that had to be met. Guller said it has now been fulfilled.
Just checked in on the Parish's Ebay sale $201,500 via 233 bids. Reserve not met.— Kevin Curtin (@Playback_Austin) December 3, 2017
Guller told the Daily Dot he chose to sell the business on eBay—rather than with a broker—because he wanted to cast the widest net possible for potential bidders. So far the venue has received over 230 bids.
“Traditionally you enlist a broker and there’s a network for that,” he said. “There’s not really one for small and medium businesses and then when you get into the music venues, it’s a little bit more challenging. So I wanted to make sure we were able to put this in front of as many possible bidders.”
Guller, who also owns several restaurants in Austin, successfully sold another music venue on eBay earlier this year. Schroeder Hall went for almost $500,000 and included the sale of the dance hall and some extra property surrounding it.
“I had a good experience of doing this when I sold our dance hall that we had that was 100-plus years old,” he said. “Since I had a really good experience with that, I decided to do it again.”
While sites like eBay open up the real estate industry to a wider audience, Parish fans might be worried that bid winner could end up not having the venue’s best interests at heart. With a broker, owners have more of a say who gets approved to buy a venue. On eBay, the highest bidder wins no matter what intentions they might have.
Gullers admits this is a reality, but also said he isn’t particularly worried about it.
“Many of the serious bidders have taken a tour and/or called me and had a discussion about it,” he said. “I haven’t entertained a call that was non-music related. We are located in a historical building, so there’s no opportunity to build on top of it and make it a hotel. It’s somewhat limited in its ability to be expanded. So I don’t have a guarantee that it’s going to go to a music fan and be a music venue, I just think it’s the highest invested use for it.”
Guller said he sees the real estate industry heading toward making websites such as eBay and Craigslist as the normal way to do business.
“A broker has to add more value than what has been traditionally offered by many,” he said. “Had I listed it with a broker, it would have gone out to his or her email list which may be small … I don’t know if there is value from a broker standpoint. I very much believe eBay and other mediums like this will continue to be more traditional ways that things [are] bought or sold.”
While Guller believes eBay was his best option for the Parish, he’s going the traditional route as he sells a small town in Texas called Bankersmith, which he acquired in 2012. For this sale, he simply asking for $1.5 million.
“The town doesn’t have the reach that Parish has,” he said. “People from all over the country have been going to the Parish for shows for the past 15 years. Bankersmith is just a unique town that doesn’t have that following. In order to put it on eBay, or a medium like it, it needed to have a little bit more cache.”
Guller warned, however, that potential bidders shouldn’t wait until the last minute to enter. He said eBay requires bidders offering over $15,000 to be contacted by the website and pre-approved.
As of press time, the highest bid was $374,100.When the Daily Dot interviewed Guller, it was at $250,000 and he believed if the bid didn’t rise substantially, the winning bidder would be getting a steal because it’s rare that venue leases are signed off with a fixed rent rate. The base rent starts off at just a little over $800 a month in 2018 according to the eBay listing.
“I didn’t think that it would go as high as it did as early in the auction, but the ending bid I expect to go substantially higher,” he said. “If it ended where it’s at today, in my opinion, the winning bidder would be getting a steal.”
Tess Cagle is a reporter who focuses on politics, lifestyle, and streaming entertainment. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.