VanCleave and his wife Elaine came to Birmingham via Dallas in 1987 to open Magic Platter, an independent record store which initially specialized in compact discs, at the time the emerging music format. The store enjoyed success in Hoover, and opened a second store in Crestwood for a few years. In 1995, VanCleave volunteered to lead CIMS while at a conference of independent store owners in California.
While on vacation in Italy during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the VanCleaves were led to make a decision to close Magic Platter, which shut its doors later that year. VanCleave devoted his energies full-time to CIMS, promoting independent stores to record labels, until he resigned at the end of 2008. He is currently a talent manager with The Artists Organization, with clients such as Lenny Kravitz, Counting Crows, John Legend, and Matisyahu.
- Crowe, Christina (December 1, 2005) "Indie Music Mogul Don VanCleave." Black & White