Best record stores in Chicago?

Discussion in 'Music, Movie and Hardware Store Guide' started by AidanB, Nov 4, 2016.

  1. AidanB

    AidanB Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Indiana, USA
    Going to Chicago tomorrow for an ARW concert, and while I found on the internet the staples of the area, like Reckless Records, I was wondering if any natives to the area knew of some hidden gems in the area.
  2. spaulding

    spaulding Hoi Polloi

    The Windy City
    Reckless is probably still my favorite in Chicago - and with three locations well spread across the city they may be your best bet.
    If you're staying downtown there is a location on Madison not far from Millenium Park - though it is by far the smallest of the bunch.

    Also worth checking out:

    Jazz, Soul, Funk, Hip Hop, R&B, Latin, Brazil & more LPs, CDs, Vinyl Records, Albums, & 45s New & Used »

    Permanent Records Chicago & Los Angeles Web Store »

    Laurie's Planet of Sound »

    AND - Bob Koester who recently had to shutter the famous Jazz Record Mart has re-opened a very small shop selling blues and jazz, somewhere on Irving Park Rd. - 3900 block.
    Andrew likes this.
  3. Andrew

    Andrew Chairman of the Bored

  4. gkella

    gkella Let there be songs to fill the air

    Toronto, Canada
    Can anyone recommend the best record/CD stores to visit in Chicago.
    Thanks Glen
  5. Myke

    Myke Analog Upstairs, Digital Downstairs

  6. saturdayboy

    saturdayboy Forum Resident

  7. I hope this isn't too far off-topic, but any recommendations on the best Chicagoland/Suburban stores to sell my used vinyl to (mostly LPs that fall under the broad scope of rock/classic rock)?
  8. Myke

    Myke Analog Upstairs, Digital Downstairs

    Did you check the recent thread I linked above ?
  9. Yes. No post there mentions which stores pay best for used LPs.
    Myke likes this.
  10. Myke

    Myke Analog Upstairs, Digital Downstairs

    I'd like to know for Nashville. I use The Groove, just based on years of getting a great price ( all the hipsters moved in around the store a couple of years back, and business tripled ).
  11. This Heat

    This Heat Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL
    Most places will give more for store credit. I would go to one of the Reckless Records. In Evanston there is a small place called Squeezebox. They are more picky about common titles.
    Shawn likes this.
  12. Veni Vidi Vici

    Veni Vidi Vici Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL
    In Chicago proper there are half a dozen or so worth checking out. Here's how I would spent an afternoon touring them.

    Starting downtown in the Loop, visit Reckless Records on Madison. From there, hop on the Blue Line towards O'Hare and visit Dusty Groove near the Division stop. Then walk north on Milwaukee to Shuga Records. Afterwards, walk north on Milwaukee again and visit Reckless Records. A few minutes walking north even more will find you at The Exchange. From there, get back on the Blue Line and head back into the Loop, changing for the Red Line heading for Howard. Get off at Belmont. Right next to the station is The Exchange. Following that, walk east on Belmont then turn south on Broadway to visit Reckless Records. After all this you will be in the same position as myself - slightly broke but with firm, exercised buns. Happy hunting!
    anthontherun and saturdayboy like this.
  13. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    For me, it was always "Remember When" in Downers Grove, but sadly it's long gone. "Dusty Groove" is pretty cool with certain genres of music, but I find the store and the staff a little sterile these days. Back about 15 or so years ago, I could easily find some cool and rare Japanese CD imports of American singer/songwriters or artists like Sergio Mendes or Deodato, that American labels don't care to fuss with anymore.
  14. Veni Vidi Vici

    Veni Vidi Vici Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL
    They still carry quite a few Japanese issues, and without marking them up outrageously - I bought a whole bunch of James Brown CDs there a few years ago. Regular releases, not SHM, and way more cost-effective than ordering from Japan.

    Another place I forgot to mention is Bob's Blues & Jazz Market, the successor to the much missed Jazz Record Mart. It's at 3419 W. Irving Park Road. Bob Koester sold most of his stock to Wolfgang's Vault; this is a small place with what is left and it's not (yet) well organized, but I am sure he must have some little treasures there for the finding.

    If you visit Bob, you might as well also visit Laurie's Planet of Sound in Lincoln Square, my local independent purveyor. They now focus heavily on vinyl. Nice place run by nice people - it's small but has some interesting items occasionally. I scored exactly the Fred Wesley CD I was looking for there, after not finding it anywhere else online - and there was Laurie's, selling it through Discogs, five minutes walk away... Long live bricks 'n' mortar!
  15. beercanchicken

    beercanchicken Legendary Stickman

    Many are genre based. I like: Dusty Groove, Shuga Records, Dave's Records and Bucket of Blood. Numero Outlet is pretty cool too.
    Reckless has good prices and selection but the fact they pre-open LPs drives me crazy.
    Laurie's Plant of Sound frequently gets mentioned as the best (Jeff Tweedy frequents it) but I find their customer service appalling.
    Logan Hardware/Arcade is probably the best place to dig since Dusty Groove has gotten a little sterile as someone mentioned....
    You can also head over to Music Direct and pick up tons of cheaper Mo-Fis with the cellophane a bit torn off
  16. RTW

    RTW Forum Resident

    Reckless is the best record store in Chicago, period. There are three stores: the Loop/Madison store is smaller and not as essential. Both Broadway (my favorite) and Milwaukee are incredible, and they've made my experiences shopping at other stores in other cities much less enjoyable.

    It doesn't get the love because of its reputation as a hipster store, but I don't care about that. It's simply just better.
    I have bought an obscene amount of my collection (LP and CD) at Reckless over the last 20 years.

    - Reckless grades vinyl, and does it accurately. I know that anything I buy that is graded VG or better will be in fantastic shape. VG pricing is competitive and reasonable (e.g. if it's $15 on Discogs it might go for $13 at Reckless).
    - Reckless computerizes their inventory and the inventory is fully searchable online. Saves me a trip to the store if I'm looking for something particular and they don't have it.
    - Reckless knows the releases. If I want a copy of a 70's rock record the sticker on the sleeve will say if it is supposed to include a poster (but doesn't), or if it's supposed to have a Rockefeller address, or whatever.
    - The turnover is astounding. You can go once a week and always leave with a massive pile of goodies.
    - They have music in all genres (though indie/rock is the biggest section), and sell all formats. You can buy cassettes, surround Blu-Rays, old CD box sets for dirt cheap, etc. You can also buy VHS, they have a huge DVD / Blu-Ray selection, old games for Wii or Xbox, books, etc.
    - They have a great mix of used/new. Too many record stores focus on one or the other too heavily.
    - They allow you to inspect vinyl (or even CDs) before you buy.
    - They keep all but the ****tiest vinyl in poly bags and you get the poly bag with the purchase.

    Someone above complained about pre-opened LPs but this is only true if you're buying the only one in the bin. They don't put the actual vinyl or CDs in the bins; they file them in the back. So if you're buying a new release there will be one copy opened so that the sleeve can go out in the bin; all the other copies will be sealed on the shelf in the back. You can choose not to buy a pre-opened copy.

    The main disadvantage at Reckless is that they sell a LOT of promo copies, especially on CD, and you don't necessarily know until they've pulled it from the back that you're buying a promo. This would only be a problem for strict CD collectors, and it's frustrating if you see something on the website then show up at the store to get it only to find a big hole punch through the tray card.

    But for the most part, they do a lot of things right and a lot of things that more stores should do. I think this has contributed to their massive appeal to a lot of people.
  17. RTW

    RTW Forum Resident

    Other stores... Laurie's Planet of Sound is a good neighborhood store for Lincoln Square, and they have a good vinyl assortment with a good influx of used records and some good curating, but they don't grade. So you can assume that the record is going to be clean and/or listenable and it may not be. They can also be very expensive. I think they're a great "beginner" store but not for the really serious collector.

    Has anyone mentioned Dave's? It's in Lincoln Park on Clark Street and happily markets themselves as VINYL ONLY which has always been their thing... and Dave himself is a music enthusiast and a nice guy... but these days they focus too much on brand-new vinyl (their used stock is never from premier collections and doesn't turn over much). Still, if you're looking for a store who might still have that one UK reissue from three years ago that you can't find anywhere else, they might have it. The space is also very very small and it's hard to search because it's so cramped.
    AlienRendel and saturdayboy like this.
  18. recstar24

    recstar24 Forum Resident

    Glen Ellyn, IL
    My favorite is reckless by far, with a bias towards the wicker park location. They have the best price for new records, matching if not maybe a buck or two lower than what you'd find online. Their grading for used is accurate - I asked to see two records they had grades as NM, and found them to be exactly that. The staff I've interacted with have been pretty down to earth and very helpful. Their online presence and ordering and shipping part is excellent as well.

    If you are there, you might as well walk down Milwaukee and hit up Shuga. They are nice and have a great new selection but found their used to be in not so good condition.
  19. recstar24

    recstar24 Forum Resident

    Glen Ellyn, IL
    I found Dave's to be super expensive, with new records anywhere from $5-$10 more than what you'd find elsewhere. With a reckless location not too far from there it's hard to justify. I also found it weird that so much of their vinyl is on the floor and you really have to get on your hands and knees to sort through - a lot of the record covers and shrink wrap as a result is pretty scuffed up.
  20. beercanchicken

    beercanchicken Legendary Stickman

    IMO, the value of Dave's is that they usually have stuff in stock that others dont. But yeah, its definitely more expensive.
  21. AlienRendel

    AlienRendel Forum Resident

    Chicago, il
    Reckless is absolutely the local king, and we're lucky to have so many other quality shops.

    I walked through Shuga once and found the prices on used LPs so high as to be insulting. You can walk across the street to Reckless and get the same LPs for a fraction of the price.
    Veni Vidi Vici likes this.
  22. daan80

    daan80 Active Member

    Hi all,

    I'm going to Chicago for 6 days next month and I was wondering if you people could name a few recordshops that a worth visiting.

    Thanks, Daan.
  23. daan80

    daan80 Active Member

    Wasn't aware of this tread, sorry...
  24. Great thread. I'm flying from Toronto to Loews Chicago Hotel next week for the weekend. First time out of Canada in over 10 years! Is there anything within walking distance of my hotel? I'm assuming it's safe for walking, and at night, etc as I hear Chicago developed their waterfront right.

    Is the Time Out list above (from 2 years ago) still accurate?

    The best record stores in Chicago
  25. Veni Vidi Vici

    Veni Vidi Vici Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL
    The Loop is safe. Most of Chicago is safe, really. The new waterfront is great, you should definitely plan a walk.

    There is a Reckless Records a few minutes walk from your hotel, open 7 days week, at 26 E. Madison St.
    Shawn and DangerousKitchen like this.

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