You could say that Michael Ventura was born to be a collector.
His father, Anthony, has been collecting rare beer cans and bottles since the mid-'70s, and the two of them had discussed opening their own shop for years. Collecting, buying and selling all sorts of vintage trinkets was in their blood.
Two years ago, their dream became a reality. Anthony retired in July 2011, and they began a business together only a couple of months later. Since then, unbeknownst to those who rarely venture outside of the 610 Loop, their shop has thrived and evolved from an all-antique storefront into music-oriented business it is today.
"My dad started this (shop) with his collection of over a hundred signed baseballs, a few thousand comic books," Michael says. "We wanted to see what the market was here when we came, and what we saw was a market for records."
The books and balls didn't really sell, so the two decided to gear their store toward music instead.
"A lot of the stuff we had here that didn't move, like the baseballs and comics, we kind of just weeded that out and started leaning more toward albums, specifically vinyl and metal."
Open since August 2011, the Venturas' store, 2 Aces Collectibles, has been building out and is currently occupying two slots at Traders Village, the "Texas-Size Marketplace" just off Highway 290 and N. Eldridge Parkway. Their space is now occupied by more than 2,000 records, all in great condition.
"A lot of the records we sell are picture discs, including Megadeth, Slayer, Iron Maiden and Motley Crue," Michael says. "Metal is the primary genre here, but we have other collectibles too."
Beatles and Kiss records and paraphernalia fill the shop as well. The Venturas don't carry reissues and focus primarily on metal from the '60s through the '80s, and mostly original pressings.
"We try to focus on being an affordable shop and, while the online market is huge, if you know about local vendors that have this kind of stuff... you have a better chance of finding the item you're looking for," Michael says. "Here, you can feel, touch, see and even play the record."
Traders Village may be a drive for many of us, but metal fans will find it well worth the trek. And with a little luck, the Venturas could open another shop or mover closer into the heart of the city. In the meantime, their shop is open Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk down Central Street, listen for the metal blaring through the store's speakers and follow your ears to Suite 339/438. You can't miss 'em.
"This is something we wanted to do together, as father and son," Michael says. "This is a dream."
And the Venturas aren't the only music business at Traders Village, either. Walk down a few storefronts and into Sounds Good to Me. Ask for Gary, the eBay-lover turned proprietor of this stereo shop, and he'll help you get a setup to make those records you just bought from the Venturas sound the best they can.