Forget about Atlantis and Ali Baba; record stores are where it's at. The treasures you seek await in their dusty, cramped rows. This is not news for music lovers, but it is for a crowd you’d never expect to care—Wall Street. Vinyl sales have become a subject of fascination in the last few years, with record stores becoming the site of one of the most unexpected financial upticks the world has ever known. Slated for extinction, vinyl has come back in a real way, with Forbes predicting that sales will reach nearly a billion dollars for the first time this century.
For those of you that have been caught up in this swell, half of the joy of Vinyl records are the music stores in which they are kept and worshiped. Below we will discuss some of the best and top record stores that every real fan should visit.
Record Stores in the United States
Between Empire Records and High Fidelity, Hollywood has done a pretty good job of capturing the vibe and culture—or rather, counter-culture—of record stores. But there’s nothing quite like experiencing the place itself. Here’s a list of the top brick and mortar stores every vinyl fan should visit in the United States.
Amoeba Music, Los Angeles, California
As the World’s Largest Independent Record Store, Amoeba’s tagline speaks for itself. With locations in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Hollywood, Amoeba is a must for audiophiles of all persuasions. The offering and range of used and new vinyl is out of this world, especially in the vast LA store. You are basically guaranteed to find whichever artists, albums, and songs you are looking for in these 24,000 square feet of music. Be ready to spend a lot of time roaming the classic and great variety of collections they sell.
Stranded Records, San Francisco, California
The legendary Aquarius Records opened its doors in 1970. It was since bought and renamed Stranded Records but remains an iconic destination. It is one of the oldest record stores in the nation, with the most comprehensive collection of psychedelia, metal, and drone. Think Velvet Underground.
Reckless Records, Chicago, Illinois
For John Cusack fans, the record store in High Fidelity was inspired by Reckless Records. ’Nuff said, don’t you think? You can skip the two other locations, but you won’t want to miss the OG spot on Broadway.
Dusty Groove, Chicago, Illinois
Also in Chicago, Dusty Groove is home of all things rare and collectible. Passionate about obscurities, Dusty Groove specializes in jazz, funk, hip-hop, soul, and world music. Bonus: the store prides itself on exquisite service.
Grimey’s, Nashville, Tennessee
You cannot really talk about music without mentioning Nashville, so here it is. Grimey’s doesn’t believe in “used” music, only “preloved” music. The fact that the store has that written on their sign should be enough to get you there.
Waterloo Records, Austin, TX
Stop by Waterloo Records on your next trip to South by Southwest. Whether you’re digging for local Austin artists or gospel blues classics, it would be shocking for them not to have what you are looking for. The store is enormous, and the crowds are worth listening to live music performances.
Record Stores Around the World
With so much music out there, independently-owned record stores tend to specialize in a genre or two. This is especially true of establishments abroad, where location and origin story color the store’s collection.
12 Tonar, Reykjavik, Iceland
Björk and Sigur Rós music fans, this is for you! This small record shop is a regular hang-out for your Icelandic icons. Like many independent record stores, 12 Tonar is also a label. It is definitely worth checking out if you’re on the fence about leaving the Reykjavik airport on a layover.
Mabu Vinyl, Cape Town, South Africa
Stephen Segerman, the co-owner, is the guy in the 2012 hit-documentary “Searching for Sugarman” who went looking for Rodriguez, the elusive Bob Dylan of South Africa. The documentary won an Oscar, so if you haven’t seen it, do. Then go to Mabu Vinyl. You’re welcome.
Hard Wax, Berlin, Germany
The mecca of electronic dance tunes, Berlin is the home of one of the most iconic record stores in the world. Located in an abandoned factory building, Hard Wax is what you would expect: industrial and metallic—in other words, perfect. DJs have flocked the establishment since its founding in 1989.
Rockers International, Kingston, Jamaica
Rockers International lives on Orange Street, or “Beat Street” as locals called it in its heyday. The music has sadly all but disappeared, save for Rockers. Created by the legendary Augustus Pablo in the 1970s, Rockers is one of the last original reggae establishments in Jamaica.
Rough Trade East, London, England
The hub of punk rock, Rough Trade was founded by Geoff Travis in 1978. Within a year, the store was operating a label and a distribution arm. Eventually sold to Travis’ employees, Rough Trade remains a staple in music culture to this day.
The Treasure is Yours
Abroad or next door, record stores are modern-day treasure troves. But while these institutions are well-worth the trip, there’s nothing quite like discovering a record store that’s still a best-kept secret. The hunt is on, get to it. There is always more to discover. And, while you’re looking for your next favorite record, be sure to check out our wide selection of Victrola record players.
Business Insider. “18 Record Stores Every Music Lover Needs To Visit At Least Once” retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/the-greatest-record-stores-in-the-world-2014-2
Forbes. “The Revival of Vinyl Records” retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/vinyl/#37aa96deebdd
Rolling Stone Magazine. “The Best Record Stores in the USA” retrieved from https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-lists/the-best-record-stores-in-the-usa-22950/