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Looking for record stores in Washington DC

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

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  1. steelydanguy

    steelydanguy Forum Resident

    I tried 2nd and Charles in Woodbridge, Va., yesterday. There's a large amount of used vinyl and CDs to paw through, but I didn't find all that much that I wanted to buy. I did grab a couple of CDs. The music books section was decent, though; I bought an old Phil Spector bio and there were a couple of other books I considered purchasing.

  2. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    2nd and Charles is hit or miss. I've done okay there in the past - not great, not bad - except for one visit mid-December last year. I hit the motherlode - someone must've just sold off a big collection of old CDs, as I found a bunch of early pressings. Nothing STUNNING - no 2-track "Wish You Were Here" or any green arrows, for instance - but still a nice bunch of pickups.

    My brother lives in Woodbridge - I'll use visiting his new baby as an excuse to stop at 2nd and Charles on the way! :D
    Mr. H likes this.
  3. Jskoda

    Jskoda Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    Second Story Books has their warehouse in Rockville, MD, and it's open to customers. There are a couple bins of "collectable" records in the front, but it also has a "record room" inside where everything is $1. For the $1 dumpster divers, it's definitely an afternoon of fun.
  4. 762rob

    762rob Forum Resident

    Went to Smash and Crooked Beat last Saturday while visiting DC
    Both in Adam's Morgan as I was staying with a friend a few blocks away.
    Great neighborhood, lots of good shops and eats, very walkable which is almost impossible here in Nashville TN.
    Smash had some great titles R&B and Motown some hard to find ones but they really graded around VG- . In combination with used clothing which seem to be a trend now. Clothes and "Vinyls" - lol
    Crooked Beat was very well curated great stuff in great condition and priced accordingly, any questionable marks on the Lp's were noted..and were play graded. They knew what they were doing in there..
    Found a few good things there to bring home.
    zphage likes this.
  5. steelydanguy

    steelydanguy Forum Resident

    Thanks for the tip on this one. I checked out Second Story's warehouse last week. Talk about an unassuming, out-of-the-way location!

    I've been to the Second Story bookstore in the District, and I liked that for books but thought the music selection was underwhelming, even though there was a fair amount of it -- especially classical, which isn't something I collect.

    I probably didn't leave enough time for myself at the warehouse. On the plus side, there was a lot of vinyl and it was cheap; on the other hand, it wasn't alphabetized and it would have taken a lot of patience to look through. There were also some used CDs, though the selection didn't look all that great. I did find a few rock music books to buy. The books are in the record room area, and the selection is pretty solid.

    I also finally made it to Joe's Record Paradise in Silver Spring. A nice, big store! Lots of vinyl and CDs to look through in several genres. The test would be whether there's much turnover. There are separate bins for new arrivals, which I took as a good sign. I could have done without the plastic security trays that are attached to the CDs; it made it more difficult to flip through the bins. That's a minor quibble, though.

    Just a few doors down from Joe's Record Paradise is the Record Exchange. It's much smaller than Joe's, but the selection of vinyl and CDs wasn't bad. Some of the CDs were in glass cabinets that were locked; I don't know whether I've seen that before. This store is worth checking out, though, especially since it's so close to Joe's.
    Mr. H and IronWaffle like this.
  6. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    For me, it's a major quibble! I stopped there last year when a fellow SHFite tipped me off that they had a certain pressing I wanted. Digging into their stuff was frustrating for me because the plastic trays made it really tough to attempt to ID early pressings. I go by spines much of the time, and those were tough to see. When I've been back in the area, I've skipped Joe's because of the frustration factor...

    That's typical for the Exchange chain. AFAIK, every Exchange has the same system. It's a PITA but it's not a deal-breaker for me - at least I can see the spines! :D
  7. steelydanguy

    steelydanguy Forum Resident

    Yeah, I can see where that would be frustrating. I guess I wasn't looking for catalog info on the spines, though there are times when I do look for that kind of info (and I like to be able see whether a CD has a saw-cut mark and is a cut-out, which I try to avoid).

    And as I mentioned, the plastic trays make flipping through the bins more painful than it should be. All that said, I found some interesting used CDs and LPs at Joe's, so I'm not going to be totally swearing the place off.
  8. Jskoda

    Jskoda Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    That's the only trouble with Joe's, there isn't a lot of turnover. The MD CD and Record Exchange, on the other hand, has amazing turnover. Take the time to go through the cheap stuff, and you can sometimes find great things in excellent condition.
  9. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    For those of us who collect early pressings, scanning spines is by far the easiest way to find potential titles of interest. When I go to a store that displays CDs "spine out" - like the Exchange - it makes the process much easier.

    At places that put them "face front", I can usually grab a handful and tilt them to see the spines, but IIRC, even that was a pain at Joe's because of the plastic trays - I think they made it tough to clearly see the spines.

    In terms of a combo of buyer-friendliness and anti-theft, I think the Tunes chain does it best. They have all their CDs in plastic bags "sealed" with sticky goo - but easily opened, and they don't seem to care if you open the bags to check out the CDs while you shop.

    This means it's not totally anti-theft, but it seems less likely that someone's gonna steal a CD when the act of opening the bag draws attention to that person.

    As a buyer, ideally I go to stores where the CDs are in the cases, on the shelves spine-out and not sealed in any way - that's what makes the bargain racks at Princeton such a treat. But I understand the need to combat shoplifting - I just like the solution at Joe's worst of all!
  10. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    The Silver Spring Exchange is where I got a rare Linda Ronstadt "Greatest Hits" target variation a few months ago - and it cost me 25 cents!
  11. steelydanguy

    steelydanguy Forum Resident

    Does anyone here have any thoughts on the Vienna Music Exchange in Vienna, Va.? Here's the Web site: www.viennamusicexchange.com

    I haven't had the chance to visit the store yet. Sounds like it's a small shop that specializes in metal and punk discs, but also has some rock product. Looks like it's only open Thursdays-Sundays. The reviews of the store on Yelp are pretty positive.
  12. Henry Oklahoma

    Henry Oklahoma New Member

    Red onion records (1901 18th St NW Washington, DC 20009 Phone number(202) 986-2718)
    Joe's Records (8216 Georgia Ave Silver Spring, MD 20910 Phone number(301) 585-3269)
    Record & Tape Exchange(9448 Main St Fairfax, VA 22031 Phone number(703) 425-4256)
    Thesmellofvinyl likes this.
  13. serge

    serge Forum Resident

    Arlington, VA
    CD Cellar Arlington is closing mid January..

    CD Cellar Falls Church moving to a new location..

    I think essentially they are consolidating both stores into one..the new store will be within a block of the State Theatre in FC...
    I'm very much going to miss the Arlington branch of CD Cellar.. it always had a different feel/vibe/focus than the FC one so in my mind it was two entirely different stores....
    Thesmellofvinyl likes this.
  14. serge

    serge Forum Resident

    Arlington, VA

    it is just so small and very cramped.. I have not been in about 3-4 years...
  15. Mr. H

    Mr. H Forum Resident

    Maybe in Falls Church they shouldn't have rented the space upstairs for Vinyl?

    Or are they changing locations hoping to get more pedestrian customers?
  16. steelydanguy

    steelydanguy Forum Resident

    Interesting. I knew that the Falls Church branch was moving but didn't know that the Arlington store was closing soon.

    I hope the new place has enough space to hold the total inventory that's currently in the two existing shops.

    CD Cellar has very much grown on me since I moved to the D.C. area in April 2014. The selection is really nice for collectors like me, and the quality control is quite high as well (discs are in good shape, etc.).

    Thesmellofvinyl likes this.
  17. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    I never had much luck at the Arlington store.

    My main memory of it came a few years ago when my then-girlfriend and I went to a show at the Iota. We stopped into the store beforehand and I saw some other shopper chatting up the clerk behind the counter.

    The shopper was one of those "incessant know-it-all" types who seemed to need to "prove" to the employee how much he knew about music.

    While we browsed, I accidentally bumped the shopper's foot. I said "excuse me" and he replied "uh-HUH!" in a very curt way.

    Odd, odd guy, but I still say "uh-HUH!" sometimes! :laugh:
    Thesmellofvinyl likes this.
  18. goat65cars

    goat65cars Jerry A Great Dog We Miss You RIP 2002 To 2020

    when I lived in NO. VA always had good luck w Record and Tape Exchange in Fairfax VA.was always able to find decent there + the help were always helpful.
  19. crassus515

    crassus515 Forum Resident

    VA Beach, VA
    Stopped by Crooked Beat the other day. Been about 5 years since my last visit there and it hasn't changed from what I recall. Decent new selection, ok used but a bit overpriced. Skews heavily towards indie type stuff. Used jazz selection was small but actually pretty good quality. Better gem vs dud ratio in the used bins than, say, Joe's in Silver Spring.
    Thesmellofvinyl likes this.
  20. pmccaffrey

    pmccaffrey Forum Resident

    Marriottsville, MD
    Looks like Joe's is moving yet again - apparently to the basement of an office building up the street on Georgia Ave. But he also looks to be having trouble coming up with funds for permitting etc. and has started a CrowdFunding thing.

    Anybody hear anything else?
  21. jason202

    jason202 Forum Resident

    Washington, D.C.
    Joe's Record Paradise posted a photo of their construction progress on Facebook. Said they're hoping to open up at the new location in a few weeks.

    Crooked Beat closed their shop in Adams Morgan some time ago but they're in the process of reopening in Old Town Alexandria, at 802 North Fairfax.
    Thesmellofvinyl likes this.
  22. Thesmellofvinyl

    Thesmellofvinyl Forum Resident

    Cohoes, NY USA
    I'll be in the area April 1 and 2. Any updates on closings or openings?
  23. Gabe Walters

    Gabe Walters Forum Resident

    Crooked Beat is open.
    Thesmellofvinyl likes this.
  24. Smell of Vinyl,

    I'm not sure what type of music you're after while you're here. I highly recommend Red Onion records, which is on U St., NW, in a great shopping/restaurant/bar area (the U District). They have a solid, well-curated used rock, jazz, and blues section, and a great new indie/local labels record section. Smash! is still in Adams-Morgan on 18th St, NW, and also a fine shop for records...and clothing.

    Crooked Beat, a fine shop, has moved into Northern Virginia. CD Cellar, in Falls Church, Virginia, is also a fine shop, both with solid new and used selections at decent prices.

    Joe's Record Paradise does have a new address in a large building in Silver Spring. They have quite a huge amount of records, although I often find that they will have 5-10 copies of less desirable albums—say, a ton of the same late '70's George Harrison LPs, priced without consideration to LP or cover condition, or to the fact that they just have way too many copies of the same albums. They should be priced to go! Their rarer records are usually priced at NM prices, even when they're more likely VG or Fine, at best. Of all the stores in the area, I've bought the highest percentage of defective used LPs from this store (maybe 5-10% or so).

    My fave shop in the area has actually become the Record Exchange in Silver Spring (near Joe's), located on Colesville Rd. in the downtown area across from the American Film Institute. It's small, but they more often than not have choice albums in their new racks, with fairly competitive pricing. For those who are local, they also special-order most new LPs. (I've ordered small-label, big-label, and big represses there and have received them within days.) The staff is the most courteous and least pretentious of any that I've come across in the Greater Washington area. They carry some new/new reissues, as well. It's great for classic rock, classic R&B, soul, jazz, blues, and on occasion, punk/indie/reggae. On my last visit, I nabbed a 1970's mono pressing of The Velvet Underground and Nico, a 1970's press of their later album Loaded, a promo 1st press of Richard Hell's Blank Generation, and a 1st UK press of Gang of Four's Entertainment! for a total of $61. Not bad these days! Just to be clear, I have no relationship of any type with this business with the exception of satisfied customer.

    Anyway, good luck in the region, and Happy Hunting!

  25. Methodical

    Methodical Forum Resident

    I'm surprised no one mentioned:
    Memory Lane CDs and Records
    2809 Walters Ln, District Heights, MD 20747
    Phone: (301) 568-5032

    They have a nice collection of Albums, tapes, cds and even some 8 tracks.
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