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Building a Legacy: DJ's Record Shop in Jacksonville

Jerry West is the owner of DJ's record Shop in Jacksonville's Lackawanna area. It's a community staple, having been in business for more than five decades.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — DJs Record Shop is a Jacksonville staple in the Lackawanna neighborhood that's been in business for more than five decades.

It's owner, Jerry West, says his shop was the first Black business in the area, and he was met by resistance from people who lived and worked nearby.

"When I first moved out here in 74' every day I came my windows were broken," West said. "C&C Glass Company used to be out there on Beaver Street. He came and put glass up so much, it seemed like every day I was going there. So I guess on his way if he passed by my glass was broken they would replace the glass for me, and I'd come by on Saturday's and I'd pay em' you know."

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He recalls vividly a kind gesture from a stranger that gave him encouragement to persevere.

"This particular morning as I was sweeping the glass up there was a lady coming by, and I didn't see her when she came up, but she said 'baby this all I got'," West said. "She had 15 cents in her hand. She said don't let them run you away."

For decades, DJ's Record Shop has sat on the noisy corner or Edison Avenue and McDuff Avenue South. The blaring sounds passerby's can enjoy are tunes you'll hear from inside of DJ's seeping out.

"Everybody knows that when they pass by, it's gonna be some old school music playing," West said.

West finished high school in Blackshear, Georgia on a Thursday in 1966. The following day, he packed up and headed to Jacksonville, Florida.

"It was just a dream I had," West said. "Even when I was in school, I always dreamed of having something of my own. That was a dream and I wasn't going to let anyone turn me around."

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By September 1968, DJs Record Shop started with a few coins and three pieces of the top ten 45s. A purchase from a friend, that paid off.

"He sold them to me for 50 cents and I sold them for 69 cents," West said. "Every time I sold one, I'd close up and go buy me two in place of it. This is how I started out."

Now squeezing through tight quarters, patrons of DJ's often tend to poke fun at the shop's cramped appearance. His space is known amongst people with particular musical taste.

"It's crowded in here, but people know if there's something they're looking for old or new we're going to have it," West said.

Now 73 years old, the Blackshear teen turned entrepreneur has grown into a Jacksonville staple.

"Three kids and eight grands and I thought some of those would be interested in it, but it doesn't seem as if they are, so I'll be here until I can't walk anymore," West said. "They may have to make enough room for me in a wheelchair, but I'll be going on for as long as I can."

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