WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - After being a fixture in downtown Wilmington for more than a decade, the doors will be closing at The Soapbox next month.
Inside the establishment you'll find three businesses rolled into one.
There's the Nutt Street Comedy Club, a laundromat and bar, and a music venue. Owner Brent Watkins says it all started out as a quirky idea, but that idea quickly made The Soapbox one of the top places to see live music.
"We've had the likes of Liza Minnelli, Outkast on the stage upstairs performing at the height of their Hey Ya," said Watkins.
According to Watkins, when the economy tanked years ago, they took out a loan. He says it's now impossible to pay back the loan while maintaining the four-story building, adding that the venue is thousands of dollars in debt.
"We have a good thing here," said Watkins. "It's disappointing, but at the same time the pressure that's been building over the last couple of years. Just trying to find a buyer, additional capital has been very difficult."
Twenty people work at The Soapbox, and that includes part and full-time staff.
"I'm disappointed I couldn't continue to provide those jobs for people," said Watkins. "A lot of those people are my friends."
Watkins says most of the future shows scheduled to be held at The Soapbox or Nutt Street Comedy Club will be moved to other venues in Wilmington, and if a show is canceled, there will be refunds.
He says since it's cheaper to operate a comedy club, he is in the process of looking for a new location for Nutt Street.
In the meantime, a place that's entertained thousands will soon just be an empty space.
"We hope what we've done here has encouraged a lot of younger and older musicians, entertainers, and comedians for that matter," said Watkins.
322 Shipyard Boulevard