From the car window, Addison might seem like a mostly flat expanse of chain restaurants, auto repair shops and neutral-colored office buildings. But tucked inside the nondescript warehouses and storerooms that line Midway Road are several musical gems.
Hand Drawn Pressing, a vinyl record manufacturing company that uses the world’s first fully automated vinyl presses, and Tone Shop Guitars, a locally and independently owned guitar and gear shop that houses the largest acoustic guitar showroom in North Texas, are a three-minute drive apart from each other on Midway.
About 10 minutes south, music fans will find Josey Records, a vinyl record superstore, label and manufacturing plant, and Piano Gallery, a longstanding piano showroom that also provides tuning services and lessons. And to the north, CD Universe, one of the last CD warehouses in existence, holds court at Midway and East Trinity Mills Road.
Rhys Johnson has worked at Tone Shop since the store opened in October 2015. For Johnson and the
store’s co-founders, local musicians Grant Sheffield and Tommy Roberts, the Addison location was a carefully researched and ultimately sound business decision.
“Midway is actually a huge commuter thoroughfare with 33,000 daily drivers,” Johnson says. “We’re in between George Bush, 35, 635 and the Tollway, so you can get to any of the major highways pretty quickly.”
The 6,000 square feet of what used to be furniture shop are difficult to come by elsewhere.
“We have twice as much square footage as we were looking at in traditional retail spaces,” Johnson says. “And having a Dallas ZIP code almost doubles what you’d pay for it. In Deep Ellum, it’s four times as much.”
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Hand Drawn Pressing also benefits from a cavernous warehouse space. The 10,000-square-foot facility, which Hand Drawn shares with the packaging and print solutions company Stephen Gould, includes two Warm Tone automated presses from Toronto-based Viryl Technologies. They can manufacture three vinyl records in one minute, versus the one record per minute output of traditional presses.
The plant is an extension of local independent music label Hand Drawn Records, which now operates out of the Addison facility as well. Before, the label relied on A&R Records for pressing vinyl, but when nearby Josey Records bought A&R in late 2015, Hand Drawn’s higher-ups decided to go all in.
Only 1 year old, Hand Drawn Pressing is the second-largest vinyl record manufacturing facility in the United States (after United Record Pressing LLC in Nashville) and among the most technologically advanced in the world.
Dustin Blocker, Hand Drawn’s chief creative officer, has a nearly 80-mile commute between Addison and his home in Granbury, but he seems unfazed. Blocker says his passion for music, down to the quality inspection of every record he presses, makes his position a dream job.
"I’ve been in places where everyone wants to go to work just so they can keep their job, but they don’t actually care about it,” Blocker says. “This is so much better.”
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For Johnson and his co-workers at Tone Shop, enticing customers across North Texas to visit the store begins with focusing on the full-service showroom experience over online sales. However, most of the store's advertising dollars go to Google and social media, Johnson says; the team uses Facebook and Instagram to target local guitar players and gear enthusiasts.
“We love taking care of beginners because we get them started and get them into it, but player gear is what we’re focused on — professional or intermediate stuff,” he says. “We also like partnering with our manufacturers for giveaways.”
Johnson says that during each weekend of Tone Shop’s two-year anniversary celebration last month, customers received some "genuinely cool" prizes, including a $600 guitar and $700 amp.
"A totally new customer that had just popped in to ask about repairs dropped his name in a bucket and won a Reverend guitar,” he says. “Now, he’s in here almost every week.”