Tim’s Weird World sits on a county road off of Highway 69 in Paragould, Arkansas, surrounded by the crops of the neighboring farms and easy to recognize with its blood red awning and giant rocket replica marking the driveway. Owned by Timothy Eubanks, it’s the only record store for almost 100 miles, and definitely the only place you’ll find obscure horror movies, old science fiction novels, vintage toys, and copies of GoreZone Magazine in Paragould, a place where Wal-Mart is the go-to for 99% of the shopping and entertainment in town. I asked Tim some questions about how his store came to be, his favorite items, and why he decided to sell records out of a soybean field.
When did you start thinking of opening Tim’s Weird World? How long has it been open?
I started thinking of opening the store when I was suffering from sunstroke while stranded on an abandoned Disney Cruise liner. Mickey came onboard with a bad case of Captain Trips and left me on the Flying Dutchman. I’m no Starbuck so I just drifted around in the Atlantic for six months until a naval cruiser found me. Sometime during that, I thought to myself: “If I survive this without eating a single nibble from a corpse, I’m going to open a bookstore!”
Then I tried that and immediately realized no one reads, so I switched over to selling vintage toys and albums. Then the toys followed the books into the financial abyss and I was left marooned on Vinyl Island with the man-eating crabs. So far, I’ve managed to fend them off quite well. It’s been almost seven years and I’ve learned to construct splinter-firing cannons from shoots of bamboo.
Really, my dad placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “You know, son, you’re kind of a misanthropic slacker. You need your own business.”
What kind of items do you sell? How do you find your inventory? What seems to sell the best? Do you have items that are hard to part with?
I would say 85-90% of what I sell is vinyl. At one point, there was a huge vintage toy boom that kept the store afloat but once people grew weary of spending $150 on G1 Transformers I was left to subsist on the record sales. Thankfully, they’ve improved steadily over the years. Out of all the albums I’ve bought and sold, almost everything I enjoy (noise, black metal, spaghetti western soundtracks, Italian prog, Killed By Death-style punk, The Fall) calcifies on the shelf while classic rock reigns supreme. I sell The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin like it was still 1972. If anything, that seems to support the notion those albums speak to people in a multi-generational, enduring way while the crap I listen to is eventually going to be forgotten along with that second Zebra album and Gene Autry singles. If I’m alive to see 2050, kids are still going to be picking up “The White Album” and “Dark Side of the Moon.” It’s a remarkable phenomenon I’d never paid attention to until my livelihood depended upon it. Most of my inventory comes from constantly seeking out collectors willing to part with a few albums for a reasonable price and the occasional straggler who comes into the store with an entire collection to sell.
Out of everything I’ve sold over the years, only three things come to mind that I genuinely hated to sell: the “Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark” book (I hadn’t even cracked the shrinkwrap on it), my original 18″ John Matrix (from Commando), and every single copy of Dusty Springfield’s “Dusty In Memphis” I’ve ever owned. Now I keep one under the counter that’s not to be sold under penalty of Ti Kwan Leep (“boot to the head”).
What are some of your favorite items in the store right now?
My mint LP of William Shatner’s “The Transformed Man” is my absolute favorite thing in the store, with the “Rad” soundtrack a close second. I also have a deep fondness for my collection of New Edition albums and the first Geto Boys (when they were the Ghetto Boys) album. All the James Brown, too.
Being located off of Highway 69 and in the middle of a bunch of fields makes visits to Tim’s Weird World an extra fun adventure, but I imagine it’s not great for foot traffic. Have you considered moving to a different location?
Sometimes as I try to race the tumbleweeds around the store, I do realize the store doesn’t have a lot of foot traffic. You’d probably see more people at a Crazy Town reunion gig. If the land wasn’t owned by my family, I wouldn’t have put the store in its current location. Then again, I likely wouldn’t have put the store anywhere. Having the ability to go rent-free (with the utilities and property taxes as my only real bills) has saved the store more often than moving into downtown Paragould (or Jonesboro or perhaps even Memphis) ever would’ve. There you just have more tumbleweeds to race and you have to pay several hundred dollars a month for the privilege.
If you had to hire one character from “Doctor Who,” one 80’s rock star, and one horror movie villain to be your employees, who would you pick, and if that were all made into a TV show, do you think it would be more amusing than “2 Broke Girls”?
As a broke person, I don’t think most broke people are funny at all. Maybe the folks from Hee-Haw.
…after Googling “2 Broke Girls,” I have just learned that is a television show and not the premise of internet porn. It’s probably both. I’m not sure I can come up with a cast list funnier than the stars of internet porn (is there a Scarlett Bone-enhancin’ out there yet?), but here goes: The Vardans from “Doctor Who” (who were initially just strips of cellophane lit to look “shimmery” and superimposed onto the main action, then became a trio of dumpy guys in fin hats and ill-fitting costumes), Morrissey (shirtless with those band-aids over his nipples), and The Black Devil Doll From Hell.
If it became a TV show, I would like it to be just like “Charlie’s Angels.” Eubanks’s Eu-Force would be sent on globe-trotting missions to handle the situations the law can’t touch. Watching Morrissey destroy a man with a barrage of witty barbs would be funny, but when he pulls a bazooka out of his quiff, you’d have gold. I give the show six episodes.
You seem to be fluent in obscure pop culture trivia. Why weren’t you on “Beat the Geeks“? Have you thought about hosting a trivia night at your shop?
Beat the Greeks?
Who am I, Philip II of Macedon?
I seem to recall a bunch of people suggesting I go on that show years ago but once I realized it didn’t involve using a whiffle bat to pummel some over-serious geek who kept insisting George Lucas “raped” him, I lost interest. I don’t think I have terribly specialized knowledge in anything, though I can be a real beast at the original Trivial Pursuit where recalling the accomplishments of Henry Kissinger is crucial. For instance, I can give you a basic rundown of, say, “Gilligan’s Planet” but I’ve no idea who made up the voice cast (aside from Bob Denver and Alan Hale, Jr.).
We’re discussing a TV show that hasn’t been on the air for 11 years. I think we’re both qualified for “Beat the Geeks” at this rate.
When the store first opened, I had some vague plans for trivia nights (along with movie nights). After sitting around by myself for several weeks, I decided the best thing I could do was marathon all three “SnakeEater” movies by myself. It was much less discouraging.
What books, movies and/or music are you looking forward to this year?
The older I get, the more I realize pop culture is increasingly at the other end of my telescope. I’ve not become as bad as people who still insist 1997 was the finest year for music and listen to Tool twice a week to keep their third eyes open, but I’m about one stinkfist away. I suppose I should mention the two franchise novels I’m anticipating: Alastair Reynolds’s Doctor Who novel “The Harvest of Time” and William Boyd’s as-yet-untitled James Bond novel. A new Pynchon novel is on the horizon, which will hopefully give me a month or two of intense reading/decoding. Heaven help me, I’m actually excited about the new Stephen King novel (actually, he’s putting out two in 2013 so I’m hoping they won’t be “The Tommyknockers 2: Knock Harder” and “Dreamcatcher, Too”). Provided it comes out in 2013, Alan Moore’s “The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic” goes near the top of my list, easily swamping Neil Gaiman’s release under a mighty mound of magick hair. “Bleeding Skull: A 1980’s Horror-Trash Odyssey” is my must-own movie-related book of next year.
Movies: 2013 promises to be one of the weakest years for blockbusters in a decade. Is anyone really excited about any of them? Perhaps a few people are optimistically watching the “Iron Man 3” trailer and muttering “It’s not The Dark Knight Rises” under their breath, but when the best major release of the year looks to be either Benedict Cumberbach making vaguely Bane-ish threats or a G.I. Joe movie swept from theaters last year to insert more Channing Tatum, people should learn to enjoy a quiet evening at home. But go see the new Terence Malick film when it shows up, even if they’ve reshot it to include Channing Tatum working out to “Winner Takes It All” by Sammy Hagar.
Music: There’s the new Bowie album, which is the most exciting release of 2013 for the nearly-deads like myself. Supposedly, King Diamond’s going to squat in his pentagram and birth a new Satanic masterpiece this year, but it could just be a spooooky ghost rumor haunting a ruined internet castle overlooking a forum of damned souls. Merzbow’s “Samidara” (on cassette so I’ll look cool to the kids). The new Guitar Wolf album, and, if there’s going to be one (and there inevitably will be) the new Fall album. I hear there’s a new Tool album coming out, too, so maybe I’ll finally go that one stinkfist over the line and start wearing dredlocks while explaining that the government is reprogramming our minds through subliminal messages tucked inside the beards of “Duck Dynasty.”
Also, though you didn’t mention it: the TV I’m looking forward to this year is all “Doctor Who.” 50 years! I’ve only been involved for about 31-32 of it, but I’m trying to catch up.
What can people look forward to in Tim’s Weird World in 2013?
Expect kung-fu assassins with death in their fists delivering fearsome justice to the streets! High-octane pursuits across desolate deserts where the only way to live is to KILL! Soul-shattering assaults of screamin’ demons hungry for blood! A radioactive future populated by those too evil to burn in the nuclear fire!
…that’s the movie trailer version. In reality, even more moths will float from my pockets as I expose their emptiness and I will shed a single tear when I look at my taxes and see how much money I lost. Then I will go on a blood-soaked odyssey of vicious revenge. Okay. I’ll really go home and eat microwave macaroni and cheese and see how much it would cost to own “Throwing Copper” by Live on vinyl (the answer: it’s not cheap, considering you can get the CD on Amazon for a penny).
Expect more and better albums to show up in the store. Maybe even “Throwing Copper.”
Tim’s Weird World
1154 Greene 907 Rd.,
Paragould, Arkansas 72450
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