Our Liberty Theatre Story
Hi! My name is Aynsley Zulpo, I am one of the 4 new owners of the Liberty Theatre in North Wilkesboro, NC.
Let me be clear up front, The Liberty Theatre is a for-profit business. All tickets for first-run movies are $5. We have two theatres and each holds 142 people. Our most expensive item in the concession stand is $8, which is a large unlimited popcorn. We do make a small profit and plan to reinvest it all back into the Liberty. Even with this, it will take us years to reinvest enough profit to do the things we would like which is why we started this GoFundMe.
The Liberty Theatre has been serving the community with shows and movies since 1932. In December 2022 we learned this community staple was to close at the end of the year.
Knowing the community would be devastated after 91 years of showing movies, my husband Mick Zulpo and I partnered with Mark and Lani Cook to “save” the Liberty. The Cooks are 3rd generation business owners locally with Cooks Sports & Outfitters. Mick and I opened a family entertainment complex in town in 2021, and opened a family sports restaurant in 2023 next to The Liberty Theatre. Both families know absolutely nothing about the movie business, but knew we had to do something!
The Liberty Theatre not only features movies four days a week, but it also welcomes most local schools throughout the school year. Most adults will tell you they remember that school tradition as one of their favorites growing up locally.
Since purchasing the Liberty Theatre we have already added an ADA-compliant bathroom to the main floor (yes mind-blowing after 91 years no main floor bathroom) and invested in new HVAC units for the whole building (if you know you know). Along with some new paint, flooring and a good deep clean that is about all we can afford for now.
That is when our heart starts breaking with what we wish to do if we win the lottery.
The Liberty Theatre originally was a single theatre with multiple levels and a beautiful stage. Today the stage sits like a time capsule (you should see the beautiful curtains untouched by light for years) behind the current screens. Photos below. The top levels sit above the new drop ceiling hoping to one day be part of the room again. Imagine if we could take the space back to one theatre with a full stage. Did it mention dressing rooms sit off the stage? Ideally, we would have a drop screen and be able to show movies and use the beautiful stage for community events.
Today when you walk in the lobby you see a shut-down ticket window and a locked door to the grill that was “the” place to get a hot dog in town. We want to bring all that welcoming experience back.
What is the plan?
All four of the owners are committed to not taking a salary, and donating all of our time to The Liberty Theatre. Even with those measures Liberty does not make much money each year, again $5 first-run shows that we hope to NEVER change. Our fear is we as owners hold The Liberty Theatre back from its greatness. We have already hit our financial investment limit for a while. We play the lottery but as small business owners, we do not have the fund needed to restore this gem. So to not hold the Liberty Theatre “back,” we started this GoFundMe to see what Liberty has in store for herself. Mabel (resident ghost at the Liberty) may have something planned for her. How would we know unless we put it out there for the universe to decide?
- New theatre seats
- Remove drop ceilings and open up leveled seating options
- Recondition stage and dressing rooms, reopen
- Fix lighted signs for movie displays on the side of the building
- Reopen food café
- New Sound system
What are we working on that your money will go towards:
We can not stress enough ALL FUNDS donated will be used solely at The Liberty Theatre for remodeling. Again we are a for-profit business, we just don’t make enough profit to bring back this Wilkes County Institution (see the ad below)! As we raise money and take money out, we will update this page with the amounts and items we were able to remodel. We want everyone to know, and see how their money is being spent. The goal of the Cook and Zulpo families is to restore The Liberty Theatre to full usage for the community to enjoy for 91 + years to come.
Thank you for your time and consideration! See you at the movies!