Q&A: David Grover brings Oak Cliff into the vinyl age

Photo by Danny Fulgencio
David Grover: Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Forget MP3s. Ripping music off the Internet is so 2000s. The future of the music business, some say, is old school. Sales of vinyl records are the highest they’ve been since the 1980s. And Oak Cliff is getting in on the shift.
Spinster Records could open as soon as October on West Davis near Tyler, specializing in records and stereo equipment.

Its owner is David Grover, 49, of Oak Cliff, who has about 30 years of experience in the music business behind him. Grover played in bands in Los Angeles, was a club promoter and DJ, and most recently, gained some retail experience working for Best Buy. He moved to Dallas from Los Angeles eight years ago and settled in our neighborhood with his wife, Suzette.

How were you inspired to open a record shop?

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I was biking a lot from Hollywood to Santa Monica. I would stop at my friend Paul Livingston’s house. We’d have a beer, pull out some records … We just had a great time listening to music. With all the technology we have, putting on a record is almost is a passive way of listening. With records, you put the needle on … it’s a little bit of commitment compared to listening to your laptop. And we just had these great music times. I noticed that there were starting to be vinyl-only record stores in L.A. Three opened in 2008. They’re opening stores with nothing else but vinyl. It’s just a different way of finding things out when you go to a record store. It’s like going to the library. I just started getting really excited about that idea.

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There are already some pretty good record stores in Dallas.

Yes, there are a few. I went to Good Records, and I was like, “Awesome. Cool shop.” Then went to Bill’s Records, and I guess he does most of his business online. Then you have Forever Young, which is a huge store in Grand Prairie. Then you have your secondary ones like Half Price Books. You have Top Ten Records, which really caters to Latinos. And nobody’s doing only vinyl.

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So what is the difference with Spinster?

We’re calling it a “music lifestyle store.” A lot of people want to collect records, but record players are kind of a secondary idea. I noticed at Best Buy that people were coming in for record players, and kids have no idea how to use one. So we’re going to try and get you into that next level.

“We’re going to have a curated record selection, but we can get you whatever you want. We’re going to make sure it’s the highest quality. We’ll have four brands of turntables, and we’ll have them set up so you can hear them. Nobody does that.”

What are you selling?

We’re going to have a curated record selection, but we can get you whatever you want. We’re going to make sure it’s the highest quality. We’ll have four brands of turntables, and we’ll have them set up so you can hear them. Nobody does that. We’ll have some old turntables too, and we’re going to be a place where we can do the needles, repairs. I’m working with Caroline Rothwell; she’s a publicist. She has some really great brand connections. So we’ll have sunglasses, T-shirts, jewelry, gift items … all designed by or for artists.

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What else?

I really like the idea of what Dave Spence is doing with the campus idea [at Tyler and Davis]. You can have coffee from Davis Street Espresso on a Saturday and roll on through. We’ll have some music playing and a cool hang-out area. We’re building a stage, and we want to have some meet-and-greets and in-store performances. We have a really great sound system that’s going in there.

You’re interested in local music?

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I used to tour here with my band, and I played Trees in the ’90s, so I remember what Deep Ellum was like then. We really want to concentrate on local music. I’m interested in the history of the area. I’m trying to get as much T. Bone Walker and all that stuff that’s from here. I have a huge respect and awe for this whole area as far as all the stuff that came from Texas that you don’t really think about … the roots of music. The whole Dallas, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana connection … it’s pretty amazing. We should know and appreciate that. There’s such a great music tradition. When musicians would come to L.A. from Dallas, we would always have an ear out. This radio station, KCRW in L.A., they’re constantly playing Midlake, like every hour. There are all these great bands that are starting to come out of Texas again. I think we’re going to see a further explosion. I can be one of those conduits that can help people get their stuff out.

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