WHY Louisville’s two stores are officially closing.
Owner Will Russell announced the closure of the novelty shops on Bardstown Road and in the NuLu neighborhood via Facebook Tuesday evening:
Recently, I have had a number of personal and business issues appear in the news. I am currently addressing these issues, and focusing my energies—first and foremost—on my family and my recovery. On a business front, I am very sad to announce that faced with risks and uncertainties, and other factors that are beyond its control, WHY Louisville has ceased operations. I want to thank everyone who supported the WHY Louisville stores over the past 10 years. It has been an honor to have been part of Louisville’s small business community and I look forward to future ventures and a better tomorrow. All the best -Will
Russell went through personal problems in a very public way earlier this year. He was arrested in July at Lebowski Fest — an event he created — for marijuana possession, menacing and resisting arrest.
It spiraled from there. He was arrested again and held for a mental health evaluation. He defaced parts of Funtown Mountain, the Cave City, Ky. amusement park he was just getting off the ground, and posted cryptic messages to social media.
Eventually, Russell voluntarily sought inpatient treatment for mental health problems. Over the years, he’s talked openly about his struggles with addiction and bipolar disorder.
Cyndi Masters, CEO of DBS Interactive, bought up the business name WHY Louisville in September to protect the name, and faithful store employees continued to operate the stores throughout the recent turmoil, and even as merchandise dwindled.
“I don’t want the stores to disappear; it’s important to Louisville, and I love Louisville,” Masters said at the time.
Funtown Mountain remains closed after Cave City authorities deemed it unsafe earlier this year. As of October, Russell was late making payments on a $250,000 loan from Kentucky’s Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet to help launch Funtown.
There’s been no word yet on whether Lebowski Fest will continue.