The 78-year-old Highland Square Theatre and 69-year-old Linda Theatre in Goodyear Heights have remained staple landmarks in the Akron community, offering decades of reasonably priced and family centered film entertainment. For 44 years, Rudd (Ted) Bare has been the owner of both, and now he shares his journey throughout the years.
The Devil Strip: How did you get into the work you do?
Ted Bare: I graduated pre-dental from Kent State University and needed an evening job because I worked my way through. I had to take all these labs, four hour labs twice a week, so I needed a nighttime job to finish up so I could go to school during the day and work during the night. This is unbelievable, but from the day I walked in, they handed me the keys and let the guy who was the current manager go, which was kind of uncomfortable. The Highland Square Theater was involved in some crazy stuff. There was a group in Akron called the skinheads who were neo-Nazis and bombed the Highland twice. For some reason, the owner let the guy go even though it wasn’t his fault and handed me the keys.
After a while, it started to feel like my own thing and my intentions were to save up money to go to dental school in Columbus and have the money to not have to work. Later, my boss was in his ‘40s and was a tremendously wealthy guy and became ill, wanted to sell the theater and asked me if I wanted to buy it. I took over the building February 6, 1973. My wife and I and our parents co-signed a loan with a security deposit for five years, and I was supposed to go to dental school after the five years were up. That plan didn’t go through, and I actually bought the Highland in ’75 and the Linda in ’85 and later owned 14 independent theaters over Ohio.
TDS: What do you wish you knew when you first started?
TB: Business cycles and the way business goes up and down. For example, one of our biggest competitors has been television which took business away, then cassettes on video. Before that, if you wanted to see a movie, you had to go to the theatre. So things like that affected us, and those are the things I didn’t know. But I worked with those cycles, even though it wasn’t always easy. I was very stubborn and wasn’t afraid to work hard.
TDS: What are you glad you didn’t know?
TB: I’m glad I didn’t know how the Firestone High School kids would be, because it was a pleasurable surprise. The Firestone community has been very good to me.
TDS: What are some of the best lessons—in business or life—you’ve learned from being your own boss?
TB: It’s all about your employees. We’re in a service business and the employees have to be customer oriented. They have to make sure they try to do everything they can make sure the customers have a good experience. That’s what keeps a business thriving, especially in a close community.
Sierra Allen: senior journalism major at Kent State University, contributing writer for TDS, self-proclaimed interior designer thanks to HGTV.