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Come to Commerce, Lucky Dog Books

Could Lucky Dog Books, which might lose its Oak Cliff location, be successful in Commerce?
Could Lucky Dog Books, which might lose its Oak Cliff location, be successful in Commerce?

Here, Lucky! Come here!

There’s sad news from Dallas today. The Oak Cliff Advocate reported that the Lucky Dog Books location in Oak Cliff is closing on April 1. They can’t pay the rent and the landlord isn’t in a credity mood. As of the moment, no location has emerged as a possible new home, the Advocate said.

Some used-book stores are rag-tag affairs of disintegrating paperback romances and westerns, perhaps supplemented by 1990s travel guides and DOS-era computer books.

Lucky Dog Books, however, transcends such lameness. The Oak Cliff store (there are other locations in Dallas’ Casa View neighborhood and Mesquite) hosts an enormous collection of fiction and literature, as well as nonfiction titles ranging from the sciences to the humanities and arts. Add to that a respectable collection of vinyl, some CDs and even some vintage periodicals and you have one heck of a shop. As for the romance novels and westerns, they have plenty of those, too, so you can slip in some poolside reading underneath your Nabokov and Hurston.

The Oak Cliff Advocate reports that the proprietors would like to stay in Oak Cliff. And who wouldn’t, with that neighborhood enjoying a well-earned Renaissance. Oak Cliff today contributes to the life of Dallas by providing a fun districtof shops and restaurants where people from all economic backgrounds mingle and travel by foot instead of by car. Dallas has come a long way in terms of urban livability, but could always use more of that sort of thing.

But will that same popularity result in local rent prices prohibiting Lucky Dog Books from finding a new home in Oak Cliff? It’s possible.

So, Lucky Dog, here’s a proposition.

There’s this place called Commerce, which you probably never think about. But we’re just an hour away from downtown Dallas – a mere 66-mile jaunt up I-30. I know, you hip city types start to break out in hives as soon as I-30 brings you to the hideous nexus of the LBJ Freeway, Garland and Mesquite – where malls trample one’s aesthetic sensibilities like SUVs crushing little kittens. It is indeed a diabolical vortex.

But instead of heading back west to drown the memory of suburban hellscape in a Lakewood Hop Trapp, keep going east. The traffic thins out after 635 and you can breathe easily. Soon, you’re going over a lake – isn’t that nice? Don’t look at the tree stumps on the north side. Cast your eyes on the south side and all that pretty, shimmering water. Then, you’re in Rockwall – keep going. There’s an In-N-Out Burger and some other stuff, and that football stadium means you’re in Royse City.

Caddo Mills after that, so you’re starting to get out of suburbia and into the country – Hunt County. Pretty soon, there’s Greenville, our county seat. East of Greenville, the rural vibe goes up a notch. You see that the trees are denser, and you’re definitely not in DFW anymore. Welcome to Commerce.

There’s a pretty big university here: Texas A&M University-Commerce, which was known as East Texas State University until 1996. We have more than 6,000 undergraduates! More than 6,000 grad students! Our beautiful campus is a mix of new and old buildings. There’s a splendid performing arts facility. Our football team is a winner! Basketball games are a hoot! There’s even an NPR member station up here!

But, we lack…a bookstore. The campus bookstore sells textbooks, but no other books. The only other place in town to get printed materials are, uh…Walmart…Brookshire’s…Goodwill...

Help me, Lucky Dog from Oak Cliff. You’re my only hope.

Come to Commerce, Lucky Dog Books. Bring your gorgeous, oversized, art history books. Bring your Studs Terkel and your Shakespeare and your Brontës. Your Paglia and your Plath – bring them. Tell KRS-One and Claude Debussy to come, too. Commerce needs you! We need more culture. We love how scruffy and unpretentious this place is, but we could use just a few more of the things that college towns have.

Commercial real estate vacancies: We haz them. I’m looking out my window at them – from campus! – as I type this. Prices are bound to be reasonable. Just contact the Commerce Chamber of Commerce. See what an auspicious name that is? It’s a sign!

Lucky Dog, don’t slink around Oak Cliff all sad and droopy. If those Bishop Arts types don’t want to take you in, let ‘em wallow in their artisan calzones or cupcakes or whatever it is they like to wallow in.  Come up here and be loved. What’d Etta James say? Tell mama all about it. You get up on that highway and come get you some loving. And remember, if you get bored, you can always go back to Dallas on your days off. It’s just a few truck stops and subdivisions away.


Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.