A few weeks back, our own Marc Brubaker detailed ten of the best record stores in the Houston area. This past weekend I finally visited another one to add to your list of must-visit shops in Houston, and it is worthy of the drive if you live inside the Inner Loop.
Sweet Spot Audio and Records is located in Webster, at the corner of Highway 3 and Bay Area Boulevard, and is run by a husband-and-wife team from the area who retired and jumped into the record store business.
Nigel Harrison first opened up Sweet Spot in League City two years ago, intending to make his store a sort of "Hallmark for men," but he soon shifted gears into audio components (turntables, speakers, receivers) and new and used vinyl. He still carries band shirts and other trinkets alongside the vinyl.
Sweet Spot is now the only true record store in the Webster/Clear Lake area, and Harrison has customers aged 14 to 75 he says, some who come from as far as Beaumont to visit.
"I dropped 4,000 albums from my own collection into the store. I just thought it would be fun to give people a chance to listen to music the way it was intended," Harrison says. He was a successful banker for 36 years, and his wife Cathy was a school librarian.
Their son Brian covers shifts on the weekends for his folks when they leave town. Brian used to be in the late, great Balaclavas, a Houston band that I spilled plenty of digital ink over. He's now a promising lawyer here in town.
Harrison says that when his son was growing up, he complained about his father listening to music too loud in the house. The day I visited Sweet Spot, Harrison was happily blaring Jack White's latest album in the audio room at a rich, deafening level.
He decided to combine audio equipment with the vinyl because no one else was doing it, and it seemed like a no-brainer. He also tries to keep prices down on both, with an eye on retaining repeat customers.
Harrison says fans deserve to hear music in the best way possible for not a lot of money out of pocket. His used vinyl is comfortably priced, and he has all of the biggest new releases in stock, plus some weirder stuff for the niche crowd.
I picked up clean copies of McCartney II and Rumours, plus some extra record sleeves, for less than $20, and was salivating at his collection of country vinyl.
Harrison cannot keep any Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin on his shelves, due to high demand from shoppers of all ages. Beatles records (new and used) are brisk sellers.
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The next big event for Sweet Spot is Record Store Day on April 20, when the store will be having door prizes and three live bands, including a Misfits tribute act. Harrison is looking into getting rid of the some 5,000 promo posters he is sifting through now, in addition to all the sought-after RSD releases.