In the new vinyl era, old-school Top Ten Records is a beat behind

photo by Danny Fulgencio
photo by Danny Fulgencio

A new record store is coming to Oak Cliff.

On West Davis at Tyler, neighborhood resident and musician David Grover is planning Spinster records. The new shop will specialize in vinyl records and stereo equipment.

Amid all the digital noise of the modern music industry, analog is in again. Vinyl-only record stores are the hip thing in Los Angeles, Grover says.

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Back in the ’50s and ’60s, Oak Cliff had several shops like that.

Coghill-Simmons record store, on West Davis where Chango Botanica is now, specialized in “Barbara Streisand and classical, that kind of stuff,” says Mike Polk of Top Ten Records on Jefferson.

In the ’50s and ’60s, Top Ten specialized in rock ‘n’ roll. Polk took over that shop from Dub Stark in 1977.

Polk, now 73, had returned to Dallas from San Francisco because his mother was sick. Stark used to repair Polk’s mother’s old Philco radio. He had closed Top Ten and was running a flower shop in the space next door, and he offered Polk a place to live and asked him to run the shop, for $125 a week, until someone bought it.

By the time Polk took over, the shop had begun specializing in country and western music.

“Then it changed to break-dancing music, then metal, then Tejano and freestyle music, and that’s what it’s been ever since,” he says.

Top Ten supports KNON, especially the Latin Energy show, which brings in a lot of customers.

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“That’s why we’re still here,” he says.

The shop was a Billboard reporter for 30 years. But Polk admits he knows nothing about current popular music. He stocks Top Ten by ordering things customers request — he orders one to fill the request and one to stock the shelves.

“We’re still doing it the old-fashioned way,” he says.

Across the street, Jim Lake Cos. is renovating Jefferson Tower, creating high-end loft apartments and spaces for restaurants and shops. The owners of Small Brewpub, a future tenant of Jefferson Tower, recently brought Polk some new LPs of local artists to sell. That’s the only vinyl the shop carries. Ironically, this old-school shop is a beat behind the new vinyl era. Top Ten still has the original shelving custom built for 78s, 45s and LPs, but now they hold only CDs and cassette tapes.

Polk says he suspects his landlord will raise the rent in light of the changes at Jefferson Tower. Grover of Spinster records says he considered buying Top Ten out before leasing the space on West Davis.

When asked if the shop is for sale, Polk says, “Could be. Could be.”

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