Day Trips

Good Records in Dallas is what happens when music lovers take over the record store

Ear Candy
Ear Candy (Photo By Gerald E. McLeod)

Good Records in Dallas is what happens when music lovers take over the record store. The little shop on the east side of the central business district sells an eclectic mix of music that ranges from oldies to the latest independent releases.

"We don't push any one genre of music," says Chris Neal, the store's manager. "We stock what we think is good." Thus the store's name.

The rows of CDs are alphabetized by artist rather than by genre and the four employees and three owners all make suggestions on what titles are offered for sale. Each keeps their finger on the pulse of new releases by watching the music press as well as Internet blogs and bands playing in local clubs. Several of the employees are also musicians or work with local bands. One of the owners, Tim DeLaughter, is the founder and lead vocalist of the Polyphonic Spree.

Although the store focuses on independently produced records from around the world, there is only one criterion for inclusion in the store's inventory – that it is good music. "We run the kind of store that we would like to shop at," Neal says. The bins might have a hip-hop artist next to a folk musician. Neal says they even stock the Beatles.

Most of the customers who visit the store are looking to try something new, Neal says. The store's customers are as diverse as the music stocked in the racks. He says that on any given day, twentysomething kids will mix with businessmen on their lunch hour.

One of Neal's favorite customers is a guy who has been coming in regularly for a little more than a year. "Of the five albums I recommended, he loved four and hated the fifth," Neal says. Like with many of his customers, Neal has developed a relationship with the guy and knows what to recommend.

The majority of the customers are music lovers just like the staff. Neal says he gets lots of out-of-town visitors. "For many of them, it's like a pilgrimage coming to the store," he says with a laugh. "They get out of the car and start taking pictures of the front of the building."

Neal is quick to add that Waterloo Records in Austin might be the best record store in Texas. "We're doing something completely different than Waterloo," he says. Being a much smaller operation than the Austin store, Good Records has to limit the number of titles they can stock. "We're really picky about what music we stock, but we're not snobs about it. It just has to be something that we're excited about."

Right now the store's top seller is Iter Facere by Pilotdrift. The five-member band from Texarkana hit the indie charts with their tight harmonies and driving rhythms. Neal also recommends the new CD by Stephen Malkmus. "There are some incredible new bands here in Dallas," Neal says, and one of the best is Midlake.

The store was opened in 2000 by DeLaughter, his wife, Julie Doyle, and friend Chris Penn. Neal says the store's base clientele is a community of music lovers who like to listen to and talk about music as much as the staff. "These are people who really enjoy the experience of browsing through the bins at a record store," he says.

Neal says that he has thought a lot about whether or not downloading music off the Internet has hurt small record stores. "It's really hard to say," he says. "I think maybe [the Internet] has actually been good for our store." With bands able to market their music directly to wider audiences, listeners are sampling music they might not otherwise have discovered. Most of the Dallas store's customers want the discs to add to their collections.

Good Records is at 617 North Good Latimer at the north end of the Deep Ellum entertainment district in Dallas. "We're just past the underpass from Deep Ellum," Neal says. The store is open Monday through Saturday, 11am to 10pm and on Sunday, noon to 8pm. For more information, call 214/821-9141 or visit the store's Web site at www.goodrecords.com.


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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Good Records, Chris Neal, Tim DeLaughter, Polyphonic Spree, Waterloo Records, Pilotdrift, Midlake, Julie Doyle, Chris Penn, Deep Ellum

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