New address for Neutral Zone, new gear for UofL, UK fans

Neutral Zone has relocated to 11524 Shelbyville Road in Middletown.

The Neutral Zone, a popular purveyor of quality University of Louisville fan gear, welcomed customers on Wednesday from a brand new location at 11524 Shelbyville Road in Middletown.

The new store is the third location for the company, which originally opened as CardWear in 1999 at a location across from Oxmoor Mall on Shelbyville Road. The company changed its name to Neutral Zone in 2003 to accommodate University of Kentucky fans. The facility is located between Schellers Fitness & Cycling and Willis Klein.

Rick Paulin is planning a grand reopening of the Neutral Zone on August. 19th.

Owner Rick Paulin says the new store will carry as much merchandise as the previous store on Blankenbaker Parkway. “This new location provides us with a more flexibility to respond more quickly to the preferences of our customers,” he said.

“Our passion is to serve our customers with merchandise that reflects the love for their schools,” he added. “We want to stay abreast of trends while providing a good selection of choices.”

Customers will see a lot of new designs and inventory in the new location, including adidas and Nike, along with such brands as Cutter & Buck, Retro Brands, Camp David and Legacy baseball caps. Paulin believes the smaller location will also translate to more value for Neutral Zone’s customers.

In addition to fan apparel, the store also offers a wide variety of other items, such as Woodford Reserve bourbon balls, Bourbon Q and Makers Mark sauces, watches, jewelry, glassware, banners, ad infinitum.

The company will continue to share space with Richards Awards & Engraving, which has been around since 1939, doing trophies and service awards for local businesses. Both are family-owned companies, with Rick’s wife Sharon and sons Jeremy and Matthew engaged in the business.

The store will have a grand reopening on Saturday, August 19th, to celebrate the move to the new location.

Neutral Zone combines UofL and UK stores

Quite the surprise, pulling into the parking lot in front of the Neutral Zone’s University of Louisville store on Blankenbaker Parkway. The doors are locked, the merchandise is gone and the store fixtures for sale.

Whoa. Not good news for UofL fans, who had almost taken for granted the luxury of having a Cardinal-dedicated store for about 15 years. Some can remember the bad old days when it was a challenge to find a decent UofL shirt at the old Bacon’s.

Apparently the hefty prices and the lulls between championship seasons have finally caught up with the Neutral Zone. That and all the competition from newer retail sources, including Cardinal Authentic, J.D. Becker, Fanwear, as well as GoCards.com.

IMG_2341So many places for Louisville fans to shop these day.

The company allowed the lease to expire on its 10,000-square-foot store and has moved all of its UofL merchandise to a store formerly devoted to University of Kentucky goods in the same shopping center.

The future of the former Kentucky-only store, which is now split between UofL and UK goods, is of short duration. An individual at the cash register explained that the lease on the UofL store expired first and that the Neutral Zone will leave the shopping center when the former UK store lease is up. He said they plan to locate elsewhere in Middletown.

All merchandise at the store has been discounted to 50% off and has been since May.