By Lee Noles
MATTHEWS – Noble Records owner Dillon Smith uses social media to bring vinyl record buying to a new generation and reintroduce it to older ones.
“There is something about going to a record store and the community behind it,” Smith said. “I know people who met at my record store and are now good friends. It’s like going to play golf or a bar or a church. They want to have a community. They can come in here and talk to people who are like-minded.”
Smith’s passion for vinyl began by visiting flea markets, thrift shops and yard sales while growing up in Cabarrus County. Guitar gods like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn were early purchases, but as his taste grew so did his albums. Smith estimates his collection to be around 3,000 records.
“An album can be aesthetically pleasing,” Smith said. “The sound it has and the way the album covers look. It’s something you can hold and look at.”
He bought and sold albums online at first, but owning a store was a dream he had since childhood. The chance came a few years ago by opening Noble Records in Matthews. The brick and mortar shop displays a variety of albums that range from the widely known to the obscure.
Smith also has made a name for himself with a YouTube channel that has more than 20,600 subscribers. Some videos have been viewed more 50,000 times. Any typical day Smith discusses his involvement in buying records; the dos and don’ts of purchasing albums and ranking them in certain categories.
“They get to see the story of the records and where they come from,” Smith said. “And I am enthusiastic.”
One of his favorite tales is how he got the rarest album in his collection. Blaze Foley was a country singer songwriter who struggled to get a record deal. When it finally happened, the master tapes were confiscated by the DEA after the executive producer was arrested following a drug bust. According to Smith, Foley only got 100 copies back of the album and one is in Smith’s possession.
“It has such a good story,” Smith said with a laugh.
When it comes to buying records, Smith recommended going with what you like and not be heavily influenced by other people or what is popular at the time.
“Enjoy the albums you have when you have them,” Smith said.
Chasing after albums is something Smith feels shouldn’t dictate how a person lives their life. He has sold nearly his entire collection twice. The first was when he got married and the second was to help pay for medical expenses after his six-year-old son, Noble, was diagnosed as being autistic.
“They are only pieces of plastic,” said Smith, who kept sentimental albums like the one his mother bought him. “They come and go, and you can’t be too attached.”
Smith also knows how to pay it forward. When COVID-19 had his store close, he asked people to set money aside to help people who were out of work pay for albums they may have wanted. The belief of doing the right thing matches the logo of a buffalo that Smith has chosen for the store.
“When there is a really bad storm, most wildlife run away from it,” said Smith, whose store has since reopened. “But a buffalo runs through the storm. And that is a noble thing to do.”
Want to go?
Noble Records is located at 11500 E. Independence Blvd. in Matthews. The store is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; and from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday