Employees rally to save Why Louisville amid owner's legal troubl - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Employees rally to save Why Louisville amid owner's legal troubles

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Employees of a well known Louisville novelty store are fighting to keep the doors open despite its controversial owner.

Right now, the owner of the stores is in jail and a lot of his employees quit -- but a handful of them are still working to keep the doors open.

Why Louisville is known for its unique or even strange merchandise.

"It allows people to express themselves creatively, said Katie Reid, Why Louisville manager.

These days, the store's founder is accused of over expressing himself and acting a strangely.

"I am his neighbor actually so I have witnessed it all firsthand," Reid said.

Will Russell created Why Louisville, Funtown Mountain and the Lebowski fest but has put them all in jeopardy because of several recent run-ins with the law.

"Currently, he is in Cave City, he had another arrest down there," Reid noted.

Reid is a friend and one of a handful of employees trying to keep the two Why Louisville locations in business.

"Right now, our goal is really just to keep the store running for him, for the city for ourselves, for everyone," explained Reid.

Reid says customers declined after a rumor the business had closed. The Kentucky Secretary of State's office says it has dissolved the legal entity for the business because Russell has not filed a required annual report. That means the business may have trouble obtaining future licenses or loans.

Reid will be the first to admit Russell has had a lot of questionable behavior, like the time he spray painted his Bardstown Road store and called it art.

"He sees things a certain way that other people don't. He might look at it as Avant-Garde artwork, we see it as vandalism," said Reid.

Meanwhile, despite Russell's latest issues -- or maybe even because of it -- some customers are still buying the merchandise he created or handpicked. 

"We were concerned that the store was going to be in jeopardy," said August Gramig, Why Louisville customer. "We just want to support the store, we want to make sure it stays here, we love it. They continue to make Louisville weird and let everybody have the confidence to be weird."

Right now, keeping the doors open is a struggle, but employees hope customers will help them keep Why Louisville in business.

"We're going to do it as long as we can," Reid said.

Employees don't know if or when Russell will be released from jail. They want to make sure he gets the help he needs before taking over the stores again.

Previous: Will Russell, owner of Funtown Mountain, arrested for fourth time since July

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