“Do people still buy records?” This is a question I’ve heard asked by Boomer dads at Off the Record (the Near Southside record store/watering hole where I tend bar on Sundays), and I think it’s an odd thing to ask when, in plain sight, directly opposite the bathrooms, there’s a shelf about 2 feet deep, 4 feet high, and 15 feet long stocked with vinyl albums festooned with price tags. But then again, a lot of people from that generation refuse to believe in climate change, and I suppose their skepticism extends to lots of other things that appear right before their very eyes. As of December 5, 2018, Fort Worth proper has five stores dedicated to selling vinyl records, and that’s not even counting Truth Vinyl and Growler Records in Arlington, Vintage Freaks in Bedford, Forever Young in Grand Prairie, the three Half-Price Books locations in Tarrant County, nor Record Town on South Main Street, which mostly sells CDs. Since the holiday shopping season lies upon us like a cheerful, pine-scented fog, what follows is a rundown of Fort Worth’s record stores, should a vinylphilic music fan be on your list of gift recipients.
Doc’s Records and Vintage (2628 Weisenberger St., 817-732-5455), found in the Foundry District north of the West 7th Street Target, is the biggest store with the broadest inventory. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, you’ll probably still walk away with something you might not have even known you wanted. Browsing Doc’s rows of records can occupy a whole afternoon, and that’s even before you hang a left into a veritable bazaar of stalls selling antique clothes and toys and other ancient memorabilia. Besides thousands of used records, Doc’s also has a great selection of new music, as well as a decent collection of local artists’ vinyl, cassettes, and CDs. Notable finds: We Buy Gold by Playdough and DJ Sean P. and a David Lee Roth concert t-shirt from his 1988 tour, size medium.
Panther City Vinyl sits on the west end of West Magnolia Avenue (1455 W. Magnolia Av., 682-252-8441), and I really dug what I found in the reggae and jazz sections. PCV’s local section had a lot of overlap with Doc’s – I feel like D. Anson Brody’s face stares at me out of every local music section in town. One cool local find that you better scoop up before someone else does: long-gone, dearly missed prog outfit Yeti’s Things to Come.
At the other end of Magnolia, next to Hot Damn Tamales, is the aforementioned Off The Record (715 W. Magnolia Av.), where you can get a drink while browsing records or vice versa. Dallas’ Good Records supplies their inventory, and while OTR’s selection is smaller compared to the other retailers in Fort Worth, it’s pretty interesting, full of unsold Record Store Day exclusives, plus the soundtracks to cool movies you’ve probably never seen, like the sinister synthesizer score to ’80s Belgian slasher flick The Antwerp Killer. A vinyl gem at OTR that really caught my eye: a Midlake 12-inch single, the A-side of which is a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Am I Going Insane.”
Dreamy Life Records and Music (1002 S. Main St., 817-733-5463) isn’t the newest shop around, but its location is. Crammed into what used to be MASS’s game room, the local record label/retailer’s space is small but jammed to max capacity with an acutely curated variety of used records across multiple genres, plus some new records and lots of locals, much of which is everything Dreamy Life Records has released in physical format. And like Off the Record, it’s handily located about 10 steps from a bar. The coolest records I saw there recently: “One Step Beyond” by Madness and a Pac-Man Christmas album, the sleeve of which exhorts you to “introduce your child to the magic circle of imagination.”
Finally, there’s Chief Records (140 E. Exchange Av., Ste 135, 817-624-8449), a store in the back of the Souvenir Megaplex in the Stockyards. Unsurprisingly, Chief carries a lot of country, but it also has plenty of rock and pop (and about six feet of shelves dedicated to bluegrass, plus a separate section for Elvis). If I hadn’t already blown $41 at Panther City Vinyl, I’d have grabbed a live Deodato album. Besides a pretty bitchin’ Dale Earnhardt clock, the other hella tite find at Chief was the 1979 self-titled debut of Mineral Wells Southern-rock trio Blackhorse.
So, yes, people still buy vinyl records, and it’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon. But like every trend, its momentum depends on your participation, so stop by one of these stores this holiday season and grab some wax for someone you love, even if that audiophile’s ears are your own.