Record stores all the rage this season. Normally the fall is the time for bands and labels to roll out new albums and promotional tours, but in Dallas it's the record stores making the moves. Off the Record, which opened a couple weeks ago in Deep Ellum, is a bar with a small but carefully curated record collection; Josey Records is going big, with a local take on the old big-box store concept; Spinster Records, meanwhile, will be an honest-to-goodness hi-fi store, a haven not just for record buyers but for true music listeners.
As owner David Grover and his team prepare to host a listening party with Sealion this Saturday, a few weeks ahead of the store's expected October opening, we got an exclusive peak inside the new space in Oak Cliff.
Grover's motto for Spinster, which will be nestled in a small strip along West Davis, is all about the quality of the listening experience. "You can play your records on that Crosley if you want, and we'll even help you set it up," Grover says with a smile. "But you're going to use up the value after about four plays when it starts ruining your records."
This isn't mere snobbery, mind you. The aim is to not only carry quality equipment but to also have a knowledgeable staff on hand to help the customer troubleshoot and make the best of his investment. Grover also wants to break free of the stereotypical record store layout. He points to one of the walls, lined with small shelves.
"I don't want the records to be broken down by genre. I want it to be more like a Spotify list," he says, explaining that the collection will be organized in a free-association manner. "That's one of the cool things about Dallas, is you can be listening to a country song and suddenly it's gets really punk. There's just no borders to people's tastes."
While the store is still far from finished, it's already taking on a distinct (and distinctly minimalist) feel: exposed bricks on half the room with simple, custom-made wooden racks, listening stations along the walls, lights suspended from the exposed ceiling beams and a small stage in the rear corner. This is the sort of space that will appeal not only to the crate digger but also to their families -- "the young hipster parents with the four-year-old," perhaps, who likely just brought gourmet coffee next door.
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In fact, the whole complex is owned by Good Space, whose owner, David Spence, is also the property owner for Bolsa. In the back of the building there's an old Baptist church, which is in the process of being renovated and turned into a restaurant. (The wood for the stage inside Spinster was repurposed from the church.) The plan is to build a large wooden walkway and patio between the retail complex and the church.
"There's the expectation in Oak Cliff that the owner of a business works inside the store," says Grover, who found the neighborhood mentality particularly refreshing as a transplant from L.A. He hasn't completely broken off his ties with the West Coast -- fashion designer Caroline Rothwell will be curating a small clothing section with one-off apparel -- but he plans to reach out to other businesses as well, in particular the nearby Kessler Theater.
It was the Kessler's manager, Jeff Liles, who inspired the decision to host this weekend's event with Sealion. "Apparently it took them a real long time to get open, like a year or something, and Jeff finally said, 'Screw it, let's have some bands play and just film them,'" Grover says. In turn, Grover plans to record short promo videos with local bands to help spread the word before the store officially opens.
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Beyond that, there could eventually be meet and greets with artists performing at the Kessler, while Grover also hopes to have regular in-store performances, perhaps as often as once a week.
And so Spinster seems poised to not only be a strong addition to the neighborhood but to also occupy its own distinct space within the music scene. Who else, after all, offers to keep a regular stock of vintage jukeboxes available for purchase? "That's another thing I learned moving here," Grover says with a beaming grin. "You can find things like a good connection on old jukeboxes."
More and more, you can also find places like Spinster.
SPINSTER RECORDS is located at 829 W. Davis St., 323-304-4341 or spinsterrecords.com