Daniel Halal grew up with constant access to vinyl records through his family's collection. From rock groups like The Band and Elvis Costello to Arabic music from Fairuz, the diverse collection piqued Halal’s interest from an early age.
When Halal was 12 years old, he bought his first record — “Pinups” by David Bowie — from the dollar bin at Off the Record in Ormond Beach, Florida. From there, he became an avid collector and seller.
Now, Halal, 38, is gearing up for the opening of his new record store Sunshine Records. Owned in partnership with his friend James Siboni, the store will host its grand opening March 11 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“The main thing we wanted out of this store was that it would be a store for everybody — we just wanted it to be really warm and welcoming and bright,” Halal said. “That's why we picked the name sunshine, too.”
Halal and Siboni first met over a decade ago and bonded over a shared love of music and records. Siboni, a 37-year-old Jacksonville resident, would frequently visit Gainesville to see friends and go record shopping with Halal.
Siboni owns another record store in Jacksonville, Tiger Records. It was his idea to open a new store in Gainesville, Halal said.
Halal previously owned a record store in downtown Gainesville, Arrows Aim, but he sold it after moving to Wesley Chapel while his wife earned her doctorate.
After moving to Gainesville last March, he noticed a gap in the market. When Siboni approached him about opening a new store, he knew it would be a great opportunity.
The shop will be located at 220 NW 8th Ave., surrounded by other Gainesville staples like Flashbacks, Germains and Goldenrod Parlor.
The location offers a unique opportunity for the store to become part of the community, Halal said.
“Everybody has similar views on what we want the community to be like,” Halal said. “There's this really big patio space that's kind of shared by a bunch of the businesses, and so, we want to eventually do music and stuff out there.”
Aaron Connor, a 21-year-old UF media production, management and technology junior, said he started collecting records during his last year of high school. While his collection is a little sparse, he loves discovering new music through records — something he’ll start doing at Sunshine Records. Connor values vinyl releases over experiencing singles as they come out.
“There's definitely something to be said about the craft of creating an entire record,” Connor said.
Since Connor started collecting records, he has only ever visited brick and mortar record stores. Stores like Books-a-Million and secondhand stores that were close to his home offered a bigger variety of music, he said.
“If I have easy access to [Sunshine Records], I will spend an unreasonable amount of money on records,” Connor said. “Especially if it's something I've never heard before.”
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Gracey Davis is a third-year journalism major and a writer for The Avenue. She is also minoring in theatre. When she's not writing, she loves reading, spending time with her friends, and listening to way too much One Direction.