We knew this day was coming, we just didn't know when. After almost 21 years in business, CD Source, one of Dallas' most beloved record stores, will be turning off the lights for good on March 22. Owner Lance Price had announced all the way back in September that his store was set to close, so it's not a surprise that this day has come. Still, with Price throwing a farewell party this Saturday, it's an awfully poignant occasion.
In a way, Saturday's celebration is like its own Record Store Day, but without all the crazy lines and the annoyingly large crowds. All of the store's inventory will be drastically reduced in price, and live music will be played during most of the day and night. Acts like Five Times August, Andrew Tinker and Dead Mockingbirds will perform. "It really is a chance to say goodbye to a lot of our longtime customers and friends," Price says. "So many of our customers have become our friends. Also, a lot of the musicians have played the store before, and [it's nice] to have them play one last time."
While local record stores have been undergoing a renaissance of late, CD Source's demise hits home because it's a true institution. A last-store-standing sort of place. Where a Borders, Sound Warehouse and Blockbuster all used to stand only a hundred yards away, CD Source is the survivor. Selling CDs, vinyl, DVDs and video games, the place filled a void when those larger chain businesses closed down. Yet when told a few months ago that a new tenant would be moving into its spot, Price decided to close the store full-stop. After the store closes for good later this month, Price will sell the rest of his inventory on Amazon and eBay.
The store opened in 1993, when CDs were the dominant format for the average music buyer. Price had a lot of experience being a record store manager between 1981 and 1985. He later spent time pursuing a law degree and practicing law, but he considered either opening a coffee shop, travel business or a CD store in the early '90s. "Opening a CD store made the most sense to me because I had that background and a passion for music," he says.
Price is approachable and friendly, not somebody who will rip your head off if you don't already own Captain Beefheart's back catalog or know the differences between the U.K. and U.S. versions of early Rolling Stones records. That kind of personality can be said about the rest of the staff Price hired. "You could run things past them and get suggestions," says Kyle Harris, a longtime Dallas musician who shopped at the place for almost of all its 21 years in business. "In terms of selection, it was rare to walk in there and not walk out with something, usually what you came in for and a few extras."
Coming out with extra goodies was especially evident on the annual Record Store Day. The store was the best in town with handling that celebration day. They would order every new item released for the day and have plenty of more in back stock. You'd see everything from a Bon Jovi picture disc to a Cave-In reissue to a Marshall Crenshaw EP. Usually, if you missed out finding what you wanted at other stores, you might have some luck at CD Source. Price always kept the customer in mind when ordering every year. "We would poll customers before placing our orders and go over the releases," he says. "They don't allow us to do that anymore, but back then, we didn't have those restrictions."
Something you often heard about CD Source was how much they'd give you for the stuff you brought in to be sold. "When I was out of work for months and broke, they paid the best prices in town for my collection," Harris says. "[That] kept me afloat. I wish I hadn't sold so much, but times were hard. You didn't feel as screwed as you did with Half Price [Books] or other places."
With the reputation of paying more for used product, Price says it didn't hurt the store in the short term or the long term. "I think it really helped us when we started because there were so many CD stores at the time," he says of the competition at the time, which included CD World and dozens of CD Warehouses all over North Texas. "Not only did we pay more for CDs, but we bought a great variety of titles."
A healthy percentage of that product was made up of releases by local bands. You could find newer and older stuff pretty easily, from a new Chomsky EP to an out-of-print Baboon record. "They really wanted to support local music from the get-go," says Nick Wright, co-owner of Richardson-based Reel to Reel Records. The vibe of the place was a breath of fresh air compared to other stores in town. "They made me feel welcome as a shopper," he says.
Price has a reputation for setting up good in-stores, including this final one. "It's a real stepping stone for budding artists," says Brad Skistimas of Five Times August. "The great thing about being an artist in DFW and having a relationship with the folks at CD Source is that they always remember you. I always appreciate Lance reaching out for events and I'm honored to be a part of the store's big final hurrah."
What will be missing in the Dallas area with CD Source's closing is "another place where you can go and fall in love with music," says Nicholas Altobelli, one of the musicians playing on Saturday. "Sure you can do that sitting at your desk browsing through the indie sad bastard section on the iTunes store, but there is nothing like getting in your car, driving to a physical building, and holding a record in your hand."
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All we have is the present and the future to look forward to. With CD Source gone, we'll have to go elsewhere. "I'm going to miss having a place to take my kids to discover music," says Skistimas. "I have a personal history there that goes back before I even had a driver's license. I discovered a lot of music there, bought some of my favorite albums there, performed there I don't know how many times, and spent my first Father's Day there with my son."
Now with Wright running his own store, he's carrying on the things he learned from CD Source, especially carrying original pressings of LPs as well as reissues. There's a market for them these days, as audiophiles are still out there. "Stores like CD Source were providing new and original," Wright says. "That's what I want to put into my store."
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