Exterior Top Ten Records

(Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

Elvis Presley ruled the Billboard charts with “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel” when Dub Stark opened Top Ten Records on Jefferson Boulevard at Bishop Avenue in October 1956.

Stark sold the shop to his employee Mike Polk in 1977, when Debbie Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” was No. 1 for 10 weeks, and Polk kept the tunes going until he finally retired this year.

Cue Barak Epstein, one of the masterminds behind the revitalization of the Texas Theatre. Epstein and partners created a nonprofit to prevent the classic shop from fading away.

Top Ten, which reopened in September, now operates as a record store with sections that emphasize local music, whether that’s work by Texas and Dallas artists or albums recorded in Dallas.

Epstein says the project has been a community effort. For example, neighbor Skye Malish-Olson helped them reconfigure the interior and choose a color scheme that was era-appropriate. Oak Cliff-based carpenters Aaron Garcia and Sean Springer helped finish it out.

The new vision for Top Ten goes beyond just selling records, CDs and sunglasses, though.

Epstein and company also are creating an archive of Texas media to include rare films and other recordings. Among the treasures is an original pressing of Nemesis’ 1987 posse cut “Oak Cliff,” signed by everyone who worked on it.

The nonprofit Top Ten Records also offers monthly and yearly memberships, which include the perk of a lending library of music and film.

“When we opened the Texas Theatre in 2010, there were a few staples: Charco Broiler, Ravens Pharmacy, Top Ten Records,” Epstein says. “We found a way to make it sustainable so that it will be around for many more years.”

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