Editor's note: Doug McGrath is a music contributor with four decades of experience as a member of the Dallas music community. This week, he shares five places in Dallas-Fort Worth to buy vinyl records.
If you're into music, you already know that vinyl records are once again everywhere. Vinyl has benefits that other formats do not. It offers an enriched listening experience over cheap, digitally produced music. It lets you own your music and keep it on a shelf instead of renting it. Vinyl has nice artwork. And it comes in fancy preorder packages, bundled with T-shirts and other goodies.
I buy vinyl for all of these reasons. With new music, I often buy an LP after I've already purchased the title on CD or digital. With my favorite artists, I'll preorder vinyl from their label or merchandise site, or retailers like Amazon or Bandcamp. I make about 6-10 preorders per year. For hard-to-find vinyl, you can also buy from individual sellers on discogs.com.
Whatever the reasons and wherever you buy, vinyl LP sales have been on an aggressive upward trend since 2007 (25 years after the introduction of the compact disc), exploding from 1 million units shipped to more than 13 million in 2017.
Dallas-Fort Worth has multiple places to buy vinyl. In alphabetical order, here are my top five:
CD Warehouse Arlington
What's in store: 30,000 items
What's special: Good collection of metal, hip hop, rap, and R&B
CD Warehouse has built a loyal following since it opened near the University of Texas at Arlington in 2012. It's my go-to store for metal; I visit nearly every week. But they cover all genres — rap, hip-hop, R&B, jazz, punk, indie, pop, rock, soundtracks, Spanish, country, local, blues, comedy, electronica, underground — on a broad array of formats, both new and used, including CDs, vinyl, DVD, Blu-ray, cassettes, and games. They also do consignment for local bands.
What's in store: 40,000 items
What's special: In-store events, staff
When Good Records opened on Good Latimer Boulevard in 2000, it carried on where Last Beat Records left off as the flagship Deep Ellum record store. In 2006, they moved to make way for a DART rail station, but they got a great, larger space on Greenville Avenue out of the deal. Good Records has hosted more than 1,400 in-store events (including one that I played in 2003), and they’re supportive of local music while also spotlighting national artists. This place is basically the soul of the Dallas music community. And if you shop on your birthday (with proof of DOB), they'll give you 20 percent off.
What's in store: 100,000 items
What's special: Vast collection
Josey Records opened in Farmers Branch in a former Boot Town warehouse right off 635 in November 2014; they've since opened satellite locations in Tulsa and Kansas City. It's a giant place with 16,000 square feet devoted to vinyl, 45s, CDs, turntables, and limited-edition T-shirts. Aside from their massive collection, they do a good job showcasing new releases and collector vinyl, and are known to host fun album release parties where they even sometimes offer snacks. If you're a crate digger, they have a ton of old and used vinyl, as well.
Off the Record
What's in store: 2,000 items
What's special: Deep Ellum location
When OTR opened in 2014, it was a comfort to know there would once again be a record store in Deep Ellum. Their collection is small with a definite focus on new-release vinyl that's curated by Good Records. As a vinyl destination, OTR is more of a curiosity; but if you're in Deep Ellum and don’t feel like driving to Good Records, you can pick up the latest LP by a current artist. Their distinguishing feature is that this shop is also a bar that hosts great DJ nights and events. They also opened a Fort Worth location in January.
What's in store: 2,000 items
What's special: Oak Cliff neighborhood
This is a cool, friendly store that services one of the city's hippest neighborhoods. They feature a small selection of current releases, as well as a nice sampling of fairly priced vintage vinyl. I immediately found a copy of a split single by Dallas bands Here Holy Spain and Descender on blue vinyl that I should have bought a few years ago. They also carry new turntables, novelty books, and T-shirts. They have a small stage for in-store performances and like Josey Records, they also have a location in Tulsa.