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Best and worst record stores.

Discussion in 'Music, Movie and Hardware Store Guide' started by Slash-n-burn, Oct 24, 2021.

  1. Slash-n-burn

    Slash-n-burn Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Northern England
    The best record store I ever set foot in was Red Eye Records in Sydney, Australia. I went in 2019, the selection had everything from those rare artists whose work was never released outside Aussy, all the way to those obscure 1970s UK punk bands who are nigh on impossible to find cheap albums by back in Blighty. I'd also never seen so many Meat Puppets records in my life, in fact the general 80s US college rock selection was outstanding. All in all just a great range of stuff. Prices very reasonable, and I found the staff to be outstanding.
    The only bad thing is it's on the other side of the world!

    The worst record store that I never stepped foot in, and your about to find out why, is Backbeat Records in Edinburgh, Scotland. I went to it in September. Annoyingly, you are not allowed in the store to browse or at all unless you give the proprietor Dougie all the details of what you want first. Dougie is rude, arrogant, lazy and prices his records at ludicrous rates... not only that, but the only records he sells face-to-face are the milktoast generic ones, to get anything good, you have to go onto his online store (how to access it he didn't make clear).
    Sprague Dawley likes this.
  2. Brian Lux

    Brian Lux One in the Crowd

    Placerville, CA
    My favorites over the years (all in California)
    Chimera's Books and Records, Palo Alto
    A little jazz record store (sadly, name forgotten) in San Francisco that is long gone but insanely cool. The guy carried a lot of ESP Disk LP's
    Streetlight Records, San Francisco (used to go there when they were in Noe Valley, S.F.)
    Tower Records, Mountain View
    The Last Record Store, Santa Rosa
    The Beat, Sacramento

    (Sorry, I don't do "worst"s)
    Lightworker likes this.
  3. Matt Richardson

    Matt Richardson Forum Resident

    Suburban Chicago
    Best: Rose Records on Wabash Ave in Chicago -Mid 1980s
    Worst: I really couldn't say. I only have fond memories of record shops -especially in the early 80s before CDs became a thing.
  4. Tim Irvine

    Tim Irvine Forum Resident

    Austin, Texas
    Here in Austin Waterloo is my favorite.
    steelydanguy and Rosskolnikov like this.
  5. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Idaho, USA
    Living when I did in Sacramento, it was always Tower Records. I was always surprised they went under considering how much money I spent there over the years.
    steelydanguy and Finch Platte like this.
  6. I remember the really good ones better. I'll put a list here, and keep in mind that ALL of these are or at least were quite good, and I've been to all but just a couple of them within the last 5 years!

    The Great:
    Tower Records - Shibuya, Tokyo (Shinjuku is also fairly good)
    Disk Union multi-complex - Shinjuku
    Recofan - Shibuya (but unfortunately, I think it's gone now)
    Red Point Record Warehouse - Singapore
    The Analog Vault - Singapore
    Roxy Disc House - Singapore (used to be better but still pretty interesting and a nice guy working the place)
    12 Tonar - Reykjavik, Iceland
    Lucky Records - Reykjavik
    Blue Desert - Malmo, Sweden
    Pet Sounds - Stockholm, Sweden
    Bengans - Stockholm Sweden
    Rakk & Ralls - Oslo, Norway
    Big Dipper - Oslo
    Beat Bop - Copenhagen, Denmark
    Jazz Cup - Copenhagen
    Sound Station, Copenhagen
    Mint Records - Copenhagen
    Radiation Records - Rome, Italy
    Gibert Joseph - Paris, France
    Concerto Records - Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Rush Hour - Amsterdam
    Velvet Music - Rotterdam, Netherlands
    Flashback - London, England
    Sister Ray - London
    Idle Hands- Bristol, UK
    Zero Zero's Rare Groove - Zurich, Switzerland
    Recordland- Calgary, Canada
    Record Collector's Paradise - Edmonton, Canada
    Blackbyrd Myoozik - Edmonton
    Downtown Music Gallery - New York City
    Generation Records - New York
    ear-x-tacy - Louisville, KY (so sadly gone now, it was spectacularly good)
    Grimey's - Nashville
    The Great Escape (west side) - Nashville
    Josey Records - Dallas, TX
    Waterloo Records - Austin, TX
    Antone's Records - Austin
    Cactus Music and Record Ranch - Houston, TX
    Vinyl Edge - Houston
    Music Millennium - Portland, OR
    Everyday Music (both locations) - Portland
    Bull Moose - Portland, Maine
    Output Records - Lincoln City, OR
    House of Records - Eugene, OR
    Amoeba Records - San Francisco, CA
    CD Trader - Ventura, CA
    Freakbeat Records - Ventura
    Amoeba Records - Los Angeles, CA (I haven't been to the new one yet)
    Record Surplus - Los Angeles
    El Club del Rock & Roll - Mexico City, Mexico
    Baratos Afins - Sao Paulo, Brasil
    Big Papa Records - Sao Paulo
    Tropicalia Discos - Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
    Magimusica - Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Eureka Records - Buenos Aires
    El Ateneo Bookstore - Buenos Aires
    Perro Negro Records - Merida, Venezuela (well, last time there was 2012, unsurprisingly, and I think it had a different name then - found several MFSLs there!)
    Cutler's Records - New Haven, CT (so sadly gone)
    Rhymes Records - New Haven, CT (also so sadly gone)

    I get around a fair amount and certainly enjoy finding record stores wherever I end up.
    steelydanguy, troggy, davers and 4 others like this.
  7. JohnJ

    JohnJ Forum Resident

    Ive not been to this store - but could the ‘service’ be due in some part to Covid restrictions. Whilst clearly not implemented well, if that’s the case it might be worth giving them a break. Rules were changing on a weekly basis around that time.
    Lost In The Flood likes this.
  8. Slash-n-burn

    Slash-n-burn Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Northern England
    Don’t think so, people have been saying this since long before the pandemic
    dlemaudit likes this.
  9. tdcrjeff

    tdcrjeff Forum Resident

    Hermosa Beach, CA
    For the sake of accuracy I feel it is neccesary to point out that while both of these fine stores are on Ventura Blvd. (in Tarzana and Sherman Oaks respectively), neither is anywhere near the city of Ventura, which about 50 miles to the west.
    davers and merlperl like this.
  10. Finch Platte

    Finch Platte Hard of smelling

    Now that you've mentioned Ventura, I've got to mention Grady's, in Ventura proper. Been there once or twice, but was not impressed. And how hard is it for a clerk to chat someone up about music? You might get more sales that way. I know, what a concept.

  11. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    I'm going to do a riff on the topic: miss and don't miss. Both long gone now.

    One that I miss: Serenade Records in Washington, DC. On the expensive side, but in the days pre-Internet it had exotic things one simply didn't see elsewhere, and the staff was uncommonly knowledgeable and helpful. I could count on finding something wonderful and new every time I visited.

    One that I don't: Music Music Music in Atlanta, Georgia. (A collector friend and I used to refer to it as "Music Cubed.") Its slogan was, "We have it, we'll get it, or it can't be had." Amazing how many things turned out to fall into that last category. The store started out pretty well but declined over time; it wasn't "bad," exactly, just ended up on the lower end of mundane. Unlike Serenade, nothing special.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2021
    Lightworker likes this.
  12. pig bodine

    pig bodine God’s Consolation Prize

    Syracuse, NY USA
    Best - J&R in NY
    Worst - any number of mall chain outlets.
  13. AL01

    AL01 Eh?

    I won't name names, but there are stores where I live that:

    a) Sell waaaay too many DOL releases,


    b) Have no issue price gouging a G+ record out of people.
  14. Vinyl is final

    Vinyl is final Forum Resident

    Louisville, KY
    For me, in this context, record stores are a bit like movies. That is, there are thousands of movies made every year and probably every month. And many are amazingly god-awful, but would not make the list of "bad" movies because they are utterly obscure.

    My worst record store experience was in a place on 6th in Tacoma WA. The owner was an old curmudgeon. I'm old, but at least I'm not a curmudgeon. ;)

    Anyway, he had a horrible attitude and the place was just dumpy and felt "sad". And when I asked him if he is seeing the growth in vinyl sales over the last decade. He said no. And, frankly, after talking to him I can see why. Meanwhile, High Voltage records, just a few blocks east of his place had a lot of customers and they were super friendly. And many of those customers were young people. It was like they were two parallel dimensions.

    The most interesting record store I've ever been in is Electric Fetus in Minneapolis.

    The biggest, easily, was Amoeba on Sunset in Hollywood. That one is closed, though.
    steelydanguy and Sprague Dawley like this.
  15. JBryan

    JBryan Forum Resident

    Baltimore/St Louis
    My favorite record shop was Orpheus in Georgetown (Washington, DC). I had been looking for Gentle Giant's 'In a Glass House' for a while and found a clean copy there. When I took it up to the counter, the shopkeep and I talked about the band for a few minutes and he proceeded to pull out all these prog records I was not familiar with as well as several more Giant LPs (some boots) from the back. I spent a lot of money that day and ate noodles and rice for a month but I got quite an education and had suddenly moved to the deep end of Prog music - worth it.
  16. Vinyl is final

    Vinyl is final Forum Resident

    Louisville, KY
    Whenever I visit a new record store I try to pick up one of their branded turntable mats. I've collected a couple dozen from around the US so far. But I have no desire to leave the countries that are members of the US, so I'll probably never see any of the ones you mentioned (outside of that federation, anyway), and I'll never see California again. But it would be pretty awesome to see a wall in your music room covered with branded turntable mats from all the places you've visited. :)

    I somehow missed The Great Escape in Nashville. I need to check it out next time we're there. Ear xtacy closed down about ten years ago, BTW. The best around Louisville, IMO, is now Better Days (the western one).
    McLover likes this.
  17. Lightworker

    Lightworker Forum Resident

    Deep Texas
    Some of the better NoCal stores when I lived out there. Also liked that great little shop in Mill Valley,
    Rowe's Rare Records in San Jose and those little shops around the outdoor mall in downtown
    Sacramento in the '80s. The Rough Trade record store in downtown SF was also cool circa 1982.
    Brian Lux likes this.
  18. Vinyl is final

    Vinyl is final Forum Resident

    Louisville, KY
    I love finding a talkative owner when visiting record stores. Siren Records in McHenry IL and Kiss the Sky a couple dozen miles south of there are two that are great for that.
    recstar24 likes this.
  19. Lightworker

    Lightworker Forum Resident

    Deep Texas
    Metro D.C. had some of the best and most diverse record stores in the world circa 1968-1978...maybe even better than N.Y.C.
    If I could carry money back in a time machine that's where I'd head first...then jump back to 1965 or 1966 for some
    cool nightclubbing on the Sunset Strip (lol).
  20. Correct. My error.
  21. DME1061

    DME1061 Forum Resident

    Trenton, NJ
    Best - Princeton Record Exchange, Princeton, NJ
    steelydanguy and Gene Parmesan like this.
  22. I'm slightly confused by what you mean by "federation," but I assume you mean you'd have the chance to visit ones in US states only?

    I don't have a collection of turntable mats, but I do have a nice little collection going of t-shirts from the shops that have them and also of branded bags from those stores. An interesting thing is that Record Collector's Paradise in Edmonton also keeps a collection of branded bags from around the world. they lay them flat and staple them to ceiling tiles so the ceiling is pretty much decorated with record stores from around the world. I've personally brought them the ones they have up from Disk Union (Japan), Tower Records (Japan), Sound Station (Denmark), Big Dipper (Norway), and Pet Sounds (Sweden). I brought so many that they gave me a 10% discount last time I shopped there. That was a good day. :)
    Vinyl is final likes this.
  23. I had forgotten about that one. Have been there 5-6 times, and it is indeed excellent. Recommended.
    DME1061 likes this.
  24. What I really liked about that Great Escape was the quality of its catalog for bluegrass. It was utterly fantastic in that regard, perhaps the best I've ever seen. Oddly, you can also find some solid bluegrass collections in Canada, perhaps because Stony Plain had that licensing deal with Rounder Records.
    McLover likes this.
  25. Vinyl is final

    Vinyl is final Forum Resident

    Louisville, KY
    I can only take bluegrass in small doses. I'm in the heart of Bluegrass country and I even play from time to time at the weekly bluegrass jam at my local music store. So that is not really a draw for me, personally. There is a Great Escape in Louisville also. I wonder if it is the same chain. By the way, by "federation" regarding the member countries of the US, I just see the US and the EU as very similar, except only one has a standing army.

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