It's hard to believe that one of Dallas’ smallest record stores happens to be run by one of the city’s biggest characters. Bucks Burnett has been in the business of buying and selling vintage records and memorabilia for over three decades. And at his current store, 14 Records, Burnett spares no expense to provide his customers with the best record-buying experience.
“I have the least financial resources than any [record] store in Dallas-Fort Worth. I guarantee you I have less money than any of them, but look what I’ve done with what little I have. I’ve got 100 Queen albums; they don’t have any,” he says. “I don’t say that to be judgmental of them but I am proud of the fact that I do try hard enough, and spend sacrificially enough, so that when you come in, you don’t find a copy of Led Zeppelin IV, you find four variations of Led Zeppelin IV and it’s in the middle of every record the band ever put out, and they’re all near mint condition and they all have a full guarantee.”
Burnett says he opened his 400-square-foot dungeon of discographies at 9022 Garland Road two years ago to little fanfare. The shop is presented like a gallery and feels spacious when you’re lucky enough to be the only one browsing the bins. All of which are filled with near-mint vintage albums both from Burnett’s own museum-quality collection and any others he’s come across over his career, making his shop one of the best stocked indie record stores in DFW.
“Dallas is hugely unaware of my store because I don’t advertise. I don’t get any press and I’m fine with all that,” he says. “I just want to show up to work every day and have a fairly good time.”
But recently an incident occurred that Burnett says has led him to rethink just how openly he receives the rude patrons who seemingly show up every month. The incident in question happened Feb. 16 and was no different from any other time a group of drunken people have walked into 14 Records. They boorishly bumped into bins, ooh-ed and aah-ed at the selection and made several song requests, which Burnett was happy to oblige. Everything was business as usual, until one particularly drunk patron began demanding to hear, of all things, “Rock Lobster” by The B-52’s.
“I had already found out which three people out of the six or seven, however many there were, owned a turntable and still actively bought LPs,” Burnett says. “I have a patented method I created myself for figuring that out in 30 seconds so that I know who’s just browsing for nostalgia’s sake and who the actual customers might be.”
The woman requesting the song was decidedly from the former group. Burnett says he figured it would take less time to fulfill her request than it would be to explain to her she was in a store and not on Spotify. And as the song played another member of the group finally began showing interest in purchasing a Grateful Dead album.
"I recognized him as a paying customer from a few months ago so I was really trying to focus on him picking out a Dead record,” Burnett says. “And then half the group just walked out all of a sudden, just gone.”
Before the one person out of the group who was planning on buying something could even pull out his wallet, his friends were ushering him out of the store and into the group’s Uber. For nearly an hour, Burnett went from being a record store owner to being a DJ for yet another handful of drunks. And this time he says it changed everything.
“I go to a lot of trouble and expense and love to create what I hope is a good vibe experience for every single person who walks in, regardless of whether they purchase anything or not,” Burnett says. “[But] if you’re not going to appreciate really anything about what I’ve gone to the trouble to create, don’t come in.”
The newly posted signs on 14 Records’ door bar entry to anyone who’s not an active record buyer. Window shoppers who are willing to respect Burnett’s time and establishment are welcome as well. In fact, anyone and everyone is still more than welcome in his store. The only real difference is now, if you act like an asshole, you are likely to be shown the door.
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“If the girl who yelled, Play 'Rock Lobster,’ had taken a different approach and not necessarily bought the record but been intelligent and a good guest, she might have gotten me to tell her about the time I saw The B-52’s the very first time they played in Dallas to 300 people,” Burnett says. “It could’ve gone a different way with her.”
That’s the worst part about this entire ordeal. With Burnett’s history in the music business and the cream of his collection up for sale, it’s hard to think of 14 Records in the same vein as most other record stores in Dallas. There’s a personal connection between him and every record he has for sale and nearly every customer. He’s not running a retail store in 2019 looking to break the bank, and he regularly discounts albums as low as $5. But if you just want to get drunk and buy an Imagine Dragons LP, maybe just try Amazon.
“When you cross a certain line — especially more than once — and disrespect me or my inventory, you will be on the other side of my door within seconds,” Burnett says. “I’m going to be friendly about it. Look, above all, I’m at risk of looking like a rude person by posting that sign or even doing this interview, but you know what — and I don’t mean this defiantly or disrespectfully — I gave up caring what anybody thinks about me or the way I do my business at least 20 years ago. And that was the day I truly became happy.”