Mad World Records Hopes To Fill a Void in Denton

On a busy Friday night on Denton's Courthouse-on-the-Square, just two weeks before the kickoff of the four-day 35 Conferette, Mark Burke was holed up in his yet-to-open independent record shop, Mad World Records.

"I know I have to open before [35 Conferette] starts," he says, pausing from a day spent hurriedly unpacking boxes, checking in merchandise and setting up fixtures and racks for T-shirts, CDs and LPs to give a few folks a tour of the spot left vacant when Elements of Design, a home décor and boutique apparel shop, closed in December. Taking over this location means that Mad World Records occupies a prime spot in the center of Denton's historic downtown square, right between Denton Hamburger Company and Beth Marie's Old Fashioned Ice Cream & Soda Fountain.

And, on this Friday night, nearly every passerby—young and old—gawked in the windows at the 2,200 square-foot record store, which will soon showcase stuff ranging from old radios and phonographs to life-sized Frankenstein statues and Fisher-Price record players. These pedestrians alone far outnumber the kind of foot traffic that his last record shop, CD Addict in Carrollton, saw on any day or night of the week in years.

Mark Burke's Mad World Records aims to make the music-buying experience in Denton more convenient.
Danny Fulgencio
Mark Burke's Mad World Records aims to make the music-buying experience in Denton more convenient.

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Pinebox Serenade, Brent Best and Dim Locator perform Saturday, March 12, at Mad World Records in Denton, which will celebrate its grand opening on Thursday, March 10.

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Maybe ever.

For nearly eight years, Burke owned and operated CD Addict. Before that, he managed record stores for seven years. And he knows that not opening before a festival like 35 Conferette would be tantamount to the average retailer missing a major holiday shopping weekend.

Yet, two weeks before the festival, Mad Worlds' poster-less walls, painted two-tone golden delicious apple, were as bare as most of the store's shelves, rack and fixtures. The "button wall" and the "vinyl nook" look good, and a blue listening station that will feature local bands and touring acts playing shows around town that week sits front and center near the shop's huge window. Still, Burke admits he's "way behind" on everything from hanging posters to checking in inventory to creating a Mad World Records Twitter account or Facebook page. The large spot on one wall reserved for local selections is especially lacking.

"I haven't had a single band stop by with posters or CDs yet," he says.

(In fact, the only current show posters he'd received were from Dirtnap Records promoting their SXSW showcase, which features a number of Denton acts.)

He says he's not discouraged. After all, this is far from his first record-store rodeo. At 18, Burke moved to Dallas and landed a job at Sound Warehouse. By '96, he'd moved to Denton and was playing an active role in the DIY scene, eventually moving into The Bonnie Brae House with his brother, Marked Men co-frontman Jeff Burke. He also played bass and sang in The Chop-Sakis with his brother and Riverboat Gambler frontman Mike Wiebe, and later with The Potential Johns (which featured several members of The Marked Men).

Burke's 37 now. For all but two of those years since he turned 18, he's been selling music, working (and managing) for the big chains and various local shops with "CD" in the name. After he and his wife Maria decided to open a shop eight years ago, he started scouting locations.

The two met in Denton's DIY scene—the guy even proposed on the square, years before the Great Migration east of Carroll Boulevard.

"I looked around Denton," he says. "And, back then, it was clear that it was hurting. At least I didn't see it being able to support a record store."

So, he opened CD Addict in a strip-shopping plaza anchored by a Target.

"CDs were still selling OK," he says, "but, even then, people thought I was crazy to open it."

Nonetheless, he liked the location, a narrow spot then recently vacated by a CD Warehouse (in the same plaza as the late, great K29 Records). And for the first four years, he says, business stayed static.

"Then, about three years ago, it was like, 'Boom!'" Burke says. "Everything changed."

His theory goes like this: Gas prices soared that summer and many of his customers flocked to blogs and download sites to fill their thirst for MP3s.

Still, he says, "I've watched all the other stores go out of business over the last few years. And, I'm not beyond mistakes—I've made plenty—but, before I opened my own place, I'd had years to learn from watching my bosses and their bosses' bosses make mistakes."

The silver lining, of course, was increasing vinyl sales, which Mark had stocked at CD Addict since day one. The store's vinyl and local selection is what kept folks like Chris Welch, guitarist and singer for Denton-based band The Pinebox Serenade, shopping at CD Addict.

"When he told me he was moving to Denton, it was like a dream come true," Welch says. "It's what this town's needed. I believe that, very quickly, the store's going to be become a huge part of the music community here. Recycled [Books, Records and CDs] is great for used music of new local CDs, but for new stuff we either have to order off the Internet or drive to Good Records [in Dallas]."

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6 comments
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Cbtbrat
Cbtbrat

This is great for new stuff, but I like Books & More on W. University. They have hundreds of records in classic rock, jazz, etc., plus DVD's, games & CD's, and posters and memora-bilia. They also have used books for 1/2 price, but do trade-ins for store credit so your price is 1/4 of the original!

Mykal Almendarez
Mykal Almendarez

I was one of the FEW who frequented cd addict and I went mainly for the selection in TX albums and mixtapes....way cheaper for mixtapes than at Cd Warehouse in the grapevine mills mall or platinum records in fortworth mall

Burnray
Burnray

No disrespect to Burke, but opening around the corner from Recycled Books is retail suicide. As a frequent customer of his Carrollton location, I can tell you it wasn't the economy, or the lack of traffic that killed CD Addict, it was his inability to tap into a wide open market in North Dallas - free of chain stores and competition almost 20 miles in every direction. The store had no presence on Facebook or Twitter, and didn't even have an email list or website to market to the customers he already had. Now, he wants to make a store work in Denton, where the town all but dies in the summer and they'll compete with a book & record store with deep pockets, that pays three times what Burke will offer you for CDs and records. Well, good luck, Mark. If you thought Carrollton was tough to make a buck in, just wait....

Randy
Randy

Glad to have something other than Recycled coming to Denton. There's room. Recycled doesn't buy much of anything and I can usually get twice their amount at Hastings, which isn't saying much.

Snacksandwich
Snacksandwich

Recycled is picky - something rare these days in retail. They don't buy in bulk for the sake of getting one cherry item, or buy scratched up, wrecked cds and records like Half Price Books. I'll take quality over quantity any day of the week. If you separate your best used product at Hastings from your worst, I'd bet it's something like 70/30 - not so hot. Anyone can buy tons of stuff in a college town, but find someone who just wants the best product in their bins - tough to do in Dallas/Ft Worth/Denton. I've been buying and selling to Recycled for over 12 years - and not once have I walked out empty handed, and they pay more for cds and records than almost anyone in the metroplex. There's a reason they've survived so long - and they'll be here long after Mad World closes their doors. But, like I said, good luck, Mark.....

Stacy Ore
Stacy Ore

retailme not and printapons saves me lots of time and money and more than that it make the online shopping lot more fun when you get discount!!

 
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