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Items from 2 Branson, Mo. theaters on the auction block

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 6:19 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 12, 2021 at 6:29 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - Even if you don’t like spiders and snakes, how would you like to own a giant marquee from Jim Stafford’s Theatre in Branson including a neon spider harkening back to one of his biggest hits? Or how about a smaller neon marquee over the front door? Or the front door itself?

There’s sound equipment, lighting, seats, and curtains from Stafford’s theater that will soon be up for sale as well as a neon sign hanging next to the stage where his merchandise was once located that says, “Jim’s Stuff” but then again, how about some of Jim’s actual stuff?

“This is one of the outfits we’ll be selling that Jim wore himself,” said Tyler Hartley, who runs Three Creeks Auction, one of the businesses conducting the upcoming sell-off of Stafford items.

The suit is one that long-time Stafford fans would recognize with a black-and-white spotted coat accentuated by a sunflower on the lapel.

“It’s kind of raggedy,” Hartley said. “A hobo-type deal.”

Sitting next to the suit was a life-size puppet that Stafford also used in his show. So why is virtually everything in Stafford’s old theater for sale right down to the popcorn and hot dog machines as well as the AC units and a huge generator out back worth several hundred thousand dollars? Well, Stafford’s old theater is empty now and so is the Caravelle Theatre next door that once housed the Liverpool Legends. And those two theaters along with the adjacent 60-room Gateway Inn that’s been closed for about a decade are all going to be demolished to make way for something that the owners haven’t made public yet.

“You have a couple of different views here,” explained Diane Clevenger, who runs the other business involved in the auction, Coon Ridge Auction. “You get people that want to keep it and you see people who say, ‘Yeah, Jim Stafford is iconic but it’s time for a change.’ I believe the company that owns this and has bought the other two properties will do a great job of putting something in here really good.”

But before those structures are turned to rubble the Coon Ridge and Three Creeks Auction businesses will be selling thousands of items including Stafford’s famous guitar that he used in a routine where a broken guitar was returned to the stage wrapped in tape, shooting up through a trap door.

Both the guitar and the lift underneath the stage that made the magic happen are up for auction. The pre-demolition auction will take place on Monday, October 25.

“We will start at the Gateway Inn at 9 o’clock that morning and we’re going to sell it as a whole package, salvage only,” Clevenger said. “Then we’ll move next door to the Caravelle where the sound system will be sold and a few other items we’ll sell separately. And then around 10 a.m. we’re hoping to be at Jim’s and we’ll be selling anything that’s not tied down.”

Even though the auction is almost two weeks away, the interest is already high from not only collectors but nostalgia buffs.

“It’s been overwhelming,” Clevenger said. “We’re expecting a huge crowd but you’ll see that 50 percent are just here to see it for one last time.”

The items up for auction will start to be listed online on the Three Creeks Auction website. You can get that information at: threecreeksauction.com

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