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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Returning to My Favorite Hobby

My mother will tell you that I learned to read off record labels. Ours being a very musical family, there were always dozens if not hundreds of records in our home, and my parents and grandmother taught me at a very early age to love records. More importantly they taught me how to properly care for them and to respect that they were extremely valuable. I think that I was about the only five year old in history that was allowed to operate the family phonograph unsupervised. I would always seek out the record player in any new home I visited, and I took it quite personally when my mother's friends wouldn't allow me to operate the machine!

Since getting sober on April 15, I have been going back to my roots and rediscovering and reengaging in the things that molded my early life. I am once again an avid reader, I practice the piano regularly and I am getting seriously back into collecting and listening to vinyl records. I thought I would share some of my recent adventures and comment on the state of record stores in general.

First off, I found what every collector dreams of just today, and that is a couple of bins of nice records dropped off at my favorite thrift store. For a whomping five dollars, I got my hands on ten little gems, and if I had had more cash in my pocket I would have bought several more. The nice man at the thrift gave me a special deal since I told him that I was a musician and loved vinyl. Those are the things you love when you pursue this hobby. Consequently, I got my hands on ten really nice records from the fifties and sixties for a song. (Sorry, couldn't resist)

Once upon a time, Dallas was a record nut's paradise. Sadly, the good stores are mostly gone with one exception which I will discuss in a moment. Vinyl has made a big comeback, especially amongst young people and consequently, the prices for used records have taken a precipitous climb. Part of this increase is due to greed on the part of store owners and just plain stupidity. Caveat emptor!!!! Make sure that before you drop fifteen bucks on a used record that you know what you are getting, because most of the records available in Dallas stores at any rate, are just ridiculously overpriced.

So here's a little low-down on what I have observed of late in the BIG D and a review of local outlets for vinyl


Located on lower Greenville avenue in Dallas, this little slice of the vinyl Garden of Eden is by far and away the best record store in the city.

Now here's a word of warning to old timers who are just getting back into the market. New records are not cheap. Your average brand new record will run you twenty bucks, and more if the pressing is on 180 gram vinyl. My first reaction to these prices was rather hostile until I stopped to think that a] a new record back in the day was around ten to twelve bucks b] it's been at least twenty years since I seriously collected new vinyl so take the passage of time, and the fact that records don't sell in the quantities that they did in the 80's, $20+ is really not unreasonable.

Good Records carries the largest selection of new titles in Dallas, and they also have new pressings of many old favorites. Add to that a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff and this store is a true winner. They are huge supporters of local musicians and so, even though you may pay a few bucks more than you might on line, I heartily endorse Good Records as my primary source of new additions to my collection.

And, although their selection of used records is pretty limited, they are fairly priced and graded for condition. They also have a full selection of CDS and great hours. Good Records is a good old fashioned mom and pop record store that is in business for the love of music. Go back and watch the campy 90's film Empire Records  and you will get the idea.


Located in the Old Towne shopping center at Lovers Lane and Greenville Avenue, CD SOURCE has long been a staple of the bohemian music scene. Crammed to the gills with thousands of CDS and DVDS, CD SOURCE has recently gotten into the vinyl business.

Although I have always liked the hippy atmosphere and the friendly and off-beat staff, I find that this outlet has more annoyances than endearments.

Their vinyl stock is crammed in to every nook and cranny, basically a disorganized mess, difficult to browse and overrun with more trash than treasure. For every gem you find you will have waded through twenty pieces of crap. Couple that frustration with a pricing structure that basically parrots EBAY and AMAZON and you're in for a less than stellar experience.


Recent visits to Half Priced Books big superstore on Northwest Highway  have run the gamut from frustrating to infuriating.

HPB used to be the best bargain store in town, but now someone has informed their buying staff that it's cool to triple all their prices for vinyl. Couple that with bins that are overrun with knock off repressings of classic jazz titles and an extremely inconsistent title selection and I have concluded that aliens have landed in the back room and sucked the brains out their buyers.

I've pretty much written this store off as a source, although I from time to time find gems at their Preston and LBJ location.


Located on Live Oak Street just off of Haskell Avenue, this store is a wonderful time capsule of music's golden age(s). Packed to the brim with vintage audio equipment, musical instruments and memorabilia, this little cave also has a respectable record section.

I was pretty excited to check it out until I looked at the price tags. The big sign over the bins that read "This is not a thrift store, so don't expect thrift store prices" should have been the giveaway. From the looks of it, the same records have been sitting in those crates since the 70's and the prices are simply ridiculous.

There is a nice little back room full of five dollar records, but a trip through ten or fifteen crates revealed mostly junk.


Lloyd Sitkoff's private record business in Carrollton is a classical music lover's paradise. Lloyd has upwards of 20,000 records and just as many cds, and he deals almost exclusively in classical music. If he doesn't have it it's not to be had. He's a great guy, prices his items very fairly and can get you what you need. You can check out his treasure trove by making an appointment at 972-242-4767.


Forever Young Records in Grapevine, TX could be a collectors wet dream. Thousands of Square feet of damned near every record ever pressed makes this place a nostalgia overdose. Sadly, high prices keep this buyer from being a regular customer there.


Fort Worth boasts a groovy store called Doc's. Although I haven't visited in some months, and they have moved to a new location since I last shopped there, Doc's as I remember it has an excellent and varied selection of vinyl in fine condition and at very fair prices. I am looking forward to a trip over to Cowtown to check this place out again soon.

Anyways, there are some thoughts for anyone looking to add to their collections and spin some black discs. Here's wishing everyone some very happy listening.

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