Looking for record stores in Washington DC

Discussion in 'Music, Movie and Hardware Store Guide' started by Chris Desjardin, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. bluesbro

    bluesbro Forum Hall of Shame

    Location:
    DC
    Where are they located?
     
  2. anthontherun

    anthontherun Forum Resident

    Location:
    VA, USA
  3. bluesbro

    bluesbro Forum Hall of Shame

    Location:
    DC
    Thanks, I'll stop by next week to check it out
     
  4. Nostaljack

    Nostaljack Resident R&B enthusiast

    Location:
    DC metro area
    Just updating a few things with some of my own thoughts...

    Orpheus is now gone and has been for some time. It was replaced by Spyder Kelly's - a bar...'cause, you know, Clarendon doesn't have nearly enough bars.

    Joe's Record Paradise is now on Georgia Ave right outside of DC in Silver Spring, MD. If you want to shop there, prepare to spend time. There's LOTS of stuff there. The problem? I've found many albums that are in poor condition and you won't know it if you don't actually pull the LP's out and look at them. Still, much fun to sift through the racks. They've also got posters, videos, and all kinds of interesting memorabilia on the walls. This store has the best overall feel of what's left. Oh yeah, and it's cavernous!

    The other shop that's just a few doors down was less than revelatory when I visited there a couple of weeks ago. Their stock was skimpy and the customer service left much to be desired. I was one of four people in there. There were two guys behind the counter and neither one of them said a word to me coming or going. I said "hi" but they couldn't be bothered to reciprocate. Who knows why...

    CD Exchange in Clarendon is similarly small though they've now made some room to store their 45's which is kinda cool. It's not a place you'd be very long because of it's small size but it's in a rather pricey area as far as real estate goes. I go there once in a while.

    Ed
     
    Spyder likes this.
  5. jdmack

    jdmack Active Member

    Location:
    Silver Spring, MD
    I stopped by CD Cellar in Falls Church, VA today (near D.C.) and was surprised to see that they've leased a whole other space in the shopping center just for their vinyl offerings.
     
  6. crassus515

    crassus515 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    never been there. how's their vinyl section? any new or just used?
     
  7. jdmack

    jdmack Active Member

    Location:
    Silver Spring, MD
    Mostly used. Lots of Record Store Day items. I didn't think to look too closely at their new vinyl since I'm once of those $1.00 bin dumpster divers but it looked like they had some. Today, I picked up nice looking copies of "Industry Standard" by The Dreggs, "Long Distance Voyager" by The Moody Blues and "Adventures In Utopia" - all for $3.00!
     
  8. Ron Stone

    Ron Stone Offending Member

    Location:
    Deep Maryland
    I was shocked to see a Kemp Mill Records on my way into D.C. on Route 5/Branch Avenue. I thought that whole chain was gone. I spent a lot of money in their Greenbelt and then Waldorf stores once upon a time.
     
  9. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Location:
    Alexandria VA
    I drive past that Kemp Mill a lot - I work out that way. I've never been in, though - I just assumed it was all new stock, not used, so I never looked! :shrug:
     
  10. reeler

    reeler Well-Known Member

    Does this mean one should figure every item in a used record store is normally dandy? Big mistake if the condition of the record matters to you. I agree Joe's puts out stuff sometimes that is VG at best, Orpheus was more condition conscious, but no matter where I shop I actually pull the Lp's out and look at them- usually several times, and then I play it to check out the music and for wear and noise- the last thing I need is to spend time and money, only to get home and find out I have trash. By spending more time in there and doing it right the first time I save myself extra hassle later. I dont think I've ever spent less than 2 hours in Joe's or Orpheus (when I went there).
     
  11. reeler

    reeler Well-Known Member

    There was an article about that Kemp mill in City Paper a few months ago, which was news to me, I thought the Kemp Mill moniker was extinct:
    http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/44717/disc-men-kemp-mill-records/
     
  12. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Location:
    Alexandria VA
    Thanks for that link. I still should stop by one of these days, though that article pretty much confirms I'm unlikely to find anything I want...
     
  13. Nostaljack

    Nostaljack Resident R&B enthusiast

    Location:
    DC metro area
    Well, of course not. With Orpheus, I never had to pull record out and look at them and I generally didn't. Rick (the owner) could be trusted absolutely. At Joe's, it's a total crapshoot. Even looking doesn't tell the tale. I have seen records at Joe's that aren't even playable (not many but they're there) so VG is a little optimistic. They are priced more reasonably but you get what you pay for where LPs are concerned.

    Ed
     
  14. crassus515

    crassus515 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    Been my experience as well, with both stores. Really miss Orpheus. A lot of Rick's stock never moved, but he got a great deal of interesting things. His stock of new vinyl was pretty good, too, though very frustrating in that he would keep all sorts of new copies of something in the back room without pulling anything to the front so the only way you'd know it was there is if you asked or he offered based on what you were buying already.

    Joe's is very hit or miss, but the place is huge and easy to spend lots of time there even if you don't walk out with anything. I've had more encounters with overall dirtiness in their stock rather than groove wear or scratches, so a good RCM will help out a lot with what you get there.
     
  15. reeler

    reeler Well-Known Member

    Yea Joe's is a bit grubier and less really collectible stuff. I almost never buy less than mint minus so I look at every record regardless of where I am (even at shows where people are more likely to grab stuff without looking because it's so crowded). The other guy with Rick at the Georgetown store used to get on me for looking at the records. In later years Rick would bring stuff out for me from the back and let me look at everything. I miss that. I'm pretty sure Rick still has a number of his more rare collectible stuff in a warehouse.
     
  16. Nostaljack

    Nostaljack Resident R&B enthusiast

    Location:
    DC metro area
    I was there with Rick and his buddy on several nights/early mornings when they were packing up what Rick still had. It was a monstrous job. He said he was going to reopen Orpheus to on-line business but, as I suspected, he hasn't done it. I'm sure his stock is still in a storage space and he can't let any of it go. Good guy but a serious pack rat. He had all kinds of old promo photos and old Billboard mags in the back in boxes. I took many of them because I know if I didn't, he wouldn't be able to toss them. At my behest, he did end up tossing quite a few useless newer 12-inch singles that absolutely no one would care about. The people that would have wanted them wouldn't have gone to him to get them anyway and I knew he wouldn't ever sell them.

    I also got some of his old signage and a prototype for his logo. Cool stuff and it all hangs in my office at home.

    Ed
     
  17. harmonica98

    harmonica98 Forum Resident

    Location:
    London, UK
    Went to Joe's today - disappointing. Not a whole lot of interesting records and those I did find were beat up but not priced accordingly.
     
  18. Gabe Walters

    Gabe Walters Forum Resident

    That's been my experience at Joe's as well. They have a roped-off section of what they apparently consider the good stuff. You have to ask permission to enter, but most of those records even are VG or VG+ at best, yet priced as mint.
     
  19. steelydanguy

    steelydanguy Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Arlington, VA, USA
    I moved to Northern Virginia about five months ago from South Florida. I haven't checked out every record store in the D.C. area yet, but I've been to several of them at least once.

    My thoughts:

    CD Cellar (stores in Falls Church, Va., and Arlington, Va.):
    -- My favorite store(s) so far in the D.C. area. I think these shops are especially interesting if you're a CD collector (maybe less so for vinyl). Mostly used product, but plenty of good stuff can be found -- and in several different genres. I've found some nice out-of-print CD collectibles in great shape (Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 8-disc box set; Ray Charles "Genius & Soul" 5-disc box set; "Lightnin' Hopkins 2-disc "Mojo Hand" package from Rhino; the Meters "Funkify Your Life" 2-disc Rhino set; Parliament 2-disc "Tear the Roof Off" package; several 2002 Rolling Stones SACD hybrids; numerous single-disc various artist collections from Rhino and Time-Life, etc.).

    And it seems like the CD Cellar stores have good turnover, with fresh items coming in often. I've also made some nice used vinyl record finds at both locations (especially in the "new arrivals" bins), and I've sold some used CDs and enjoyed that process. The frequent buyer's card is nice, too. Each time you spend $15 at the store, one of 12 circles on your card is stamped. When the card is filled, you get $10 in store credit to use.

    Parking is much more of a challenge at the Arlington branch, but both stores are worth visiting.

    Red Onion Records, Som Records, Smash Records and Crooked Beat Records (all in D.C.):
    -- I've visited each of these stores once. They're all basement, vinyl-heavy shops and not too far from each other -- with three on 18th St. NW. Honestly, none of them completely knocked my socks off on my first visits, though I did pick up something at each. I'll need to visit them again to form more of an opinion, but it seemed like Crooked Beat had a heavier concentration of "oldies" ('60s, '70s, more up my alley, actually), while Smash was more in the punk/indie vein and Red Onion and Som had a variety of items. Red Onion gets the most love of all these stores in Yelp reviews; it is a well-organized shop with a mixture of new and used vinyl. Some of the Yelp reviewers commend the condition of the vinyl at this store.

    Record & Tape Exchange (Fairfax, Va.):
    -- This store had a mixture of vinyl and CDs -- mostly used. Again, it didn't knock my socks off but I still found my visit worthwhile because I found a few choice items after a little bit of digging. The test would be whether there's much turnover in the stock.

    McKay Used Books (Manassas, Va.):
    -- As a fan of used music and books, I made the trek out to this cavernous store. It was worth it! I found several used CDs and vinyl records that I liked, and I also grabbed a few books, including a great music reference book. Really large selection and well-organized.

    I have also checked out the music sections at the bookstores Books for America and Second Story Books & Antiques in D.C. I didn't find much at either, though Second Story had a pretty large selection, especially of classical music.

    I haven't been to Joe's Record Paradise (Silver Spring, Md.), the Record Exchange (Silver Spring, Md.), CDepot (College Park, Md.), Hill & Dale (D.C.) or Vienna Music Exchange (Vienna, Va.), so I can't comment on those stores. And for whatever it's worth, none of the stores mentioned in this thread are at the level of the Sound Garden, 40 or so miles north of D.C. in Baltimore. Unless something has changed since 2009 (when I last visited the Sound Garden), that store in the Fells Point neighborhood is among the best on the East Coast and in the U.S. The stock of CDs is especially impressive.
     
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  20. Mr. H

    Mr. H Forum Resident

    The Sound Garden is a great shop.
     
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  21. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Location:
    Alexandria VA
    Welcome to the area - and nice post!

    You might wanna hit 2nd and Charles in Woodbridge - I've gotten some good used CDs there.

    I've been to Sound Garden 2 or 3 times and have yet to be impressed with their used CDs. I guess I've just gone on bad days! :shrug:
     
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  22. tzatziki

    tzatziki Member

    Location:
    Austin TX
    Joint Custody on 14th and U is a cool little shop.
    Also really like Som Records, a block or so away, which has some eclectic stuff on vinyl.
     
  23. Gabe Walters

    Gabe Walters Forum Resident

    You can find some good stuff in Joint Custody from time to time, but it's on U between 15th and 16th.

    For anyone crate digging in DC, it's an easy walk to start at Som on 14th, then Joint Custody, then Red Onion, then Crooked Beat.

    The problem with this area, though, is that there are too many people buying records, so the good stuff goes fast.
     
  24. phish

    phish the house that jack built

    Location:
    Biloxi, MS, USA


    i hated that this place burned down. did you know dj dub??
     
  25. steelydanguy

    steelydanguy Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Arlington, VA, USA
    Thanks for the message. I'll have to give 2nd and Charles a shot.

    Regarding the Sound Garden, I lived in the Baltimore area from 2007 to 2009 and went to the store pretty often. I think you are right about the used CDs -- not as impressive as the stock of new CDs. But I did find the new stock to be thorough, and the prices were pretty great, too.
     

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