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Ranking U.S. metro areas for record shopping

Discussion in 'Music, Movie and Hardware Store Guide' started by steelydanguy, Jan 15, 2015.

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  1. R. Totale

    R. Totale The Voice of Reason

    If you're still around, I'd be interested in hearing about the scene in Louisville and Lexington.
  2. Gabe Walters

    Gabe Walters Forum Resident

    I think the Lexington stores were accounted for already. It's been a long time since I was in Louisville, but Ear Xtacy might still be there. There's a Great Escape store in Bowling Green, if you should ever find yourself there.
  3. Raynie

    Raynie Hyperactive!

    Snortland, Oregano
    Record stores are simply extensions of the communities where they reside. In general, the west coast is more conservative with "stuff" than east coast; I grew up on east coast and witnessed endless garage sales or trash cans filled with records which were deemed disposable. In Portland, nothing gets thrown out, ever, and people take better care of material things (possibly lower wealth and economy scale plays a part). Add to that the more "liberal" culture of west coast metro areas and you wind up with a crapload of excellent used records for sale. They keep coming in as baby boomers who were hippies of yesteryear decide to retire and move to costa rica. This phenomenon does not happen for several reasons in say, New Jersey.
  4. soundQman

    soundQman Forum Resident

    Arlington, VA, USA
    Cheapo on Snelling Av. in St.Paul has the best-organized stock I've ever seen in a record store, bar none. They have individual cards for all the artists - no miscellaneous alphabet letter sections. Plus, the corresponding vinyl is in racks directly above the CD bins, with the records also in correct location alphabetically. It's so easy to find whatever you are looking for. Treehouse is an interesting place with unique stuff. Plus, they run a local record label as well for regional artists and reissue material by classic historic Twin Cities performers like Spider John Koerner. I used to frequent Electric Fetus as far back as the late 60s/early 70s as a kid, just getting interested in buying albums, so it's nice that they are still around and thriving. They are still located in the same place, a few blocks from where my grandmother used to live. I would walk over there when visiting her.
    steelydanguy likes this.
  5. steelydanguy

    steelydanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks for the nice post.

    Yup, I'm very familiar with all of those stores having grown up in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. I'm making a one-week trip out to San Francisco and then Minneapolis for a few days on the way back coming up this week, and I'm planning on hitting some record stores in both spots.

    My favorite record shop in the Twin Cities is the Electric Fetus in Minneapolis. That's interesting that you visited the store back in its early years. It's grown into a really large independent record shop. The Fetus has a huge selection of new and used CDs -- among the biggest and most well-curated CD selections I've seen anywhere in the U.S. The new and used vinyl selection has gotten better at the Fetus, though I think that's an area with room for improvement.

    I'm also a fan of the Cheapo stores in St. Paul, which you mentioned, and in Minneapolis (Uptown). The Uptown location is bigger, but both are good spots to find used CDs and paw through used vinyl. The selection of new CDs and LPs is just OK at those shops, in my opinion. Treehouse Records in Minneapolis is also great. It's a small store, but the stock is always interesting if you're a collector. I also enjoy stopping at Hymie's and Roadrunner Records in Minneapolis for vinyl record hunting when I get the chance.

    I've heard that a few new record stores have opened in the Twin Cities in the past few years, including a couple in St. Paul and a new venture in Minneapolis from Ryan Cameron, the owner of the excellent Let It Be record store that closed in downtown Minneapolis about a decade ago.

    Overall, the Twin Cities have a nice record store scene, better than many U.S. metro areas that are larger.

  6. AleYeah

    AleYeah Forum Resident

    Greenville, SC
    From my house, I can walk to Horizon in about 5 minutes. Was just there for RSD, actually, to see a free set from Jason Isbell. Cabin Floor's another maybe 10 minutes' walk from there. Even though I can walk to the first 2, I actually hit Earshot pretty frequently, too. I don't collect vinyl, but Earshot's usually a good source for used CDs (which are the primary reason I visit stores).
    Nightswimmer likes this.
  7. soundQman

    soundQman Forum Resident

    Arlington, VA, USA
    Whenever I go back to visit the Twin Cities I try to hit the record stores there, too. I just noticed you live in Arlington, VA, as I do, and we both grew up in the Minneapolis area. Quite a coincidence! I lived in the SF Bay Area for 10 years before I moved here to the DC area 20 years ago. So, I loved the stores there, too, especially Amoeba and Rasputin's in Berkeley, and the huge Tower Records in San Francisco. Back in Tower's heyday, that store location had a policy of having at least one copy of everything domestically in print on vinyl, plus a great selection of imports. Ah, the good old days!
  8. steelydanguy

    steelydanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yes, that is an interesting coincidence that we're both from the Twin Cities and living in Northern Virginia.

    I'm a little too young (I'm in my mid-30s) to remember the good old days of record stores as I didn't get into collecting until the late 1990s or so. I do tend to visit record shops wherever I travel, though, even if they generally aren't as good or interesting as they might have once been. It seems like the really good ones (Amoeba, Electric Fetus, etc.) are still keeping the faith.

    I'll be in the Bay Area for just four days coming up this week but am planning on visiting both Amoeba branches (Berkeley and San Fran) and probably the Rasputin that's near the Berkeley Amoeba. I've been to the Berkeley Amoeba a couple of times, but both visits were over 10 years ago. If time allows, I might visit some other stores in the Bay Area, which definitely is one of the top places in the U.S. for record shopping.

  9. OnTheRoad

    OnTheRoad Forum Resident

    Of the larger cities I've been to in the last say....10 years....Dallas, NYC, Denver - Ft. Collins, Nashville, Salt Lake City...by far the best to me, and I'm a CD guy, has been Salt Lake City. You have that in your last tier of cities, but honestly, they had lots and lots of selection (namely Graywhale, who you mentioned) at UNbeatable prices. Most of their used CD's, older pressings that is, in great shape were only $2.99. I had a one time $20 lifetime 'membership card and that gave me $1 off each CD. I bought hundreds for a mere $1.99. They had 6 locations and each had many unique titles. Randy's was very good for vinyl, but their staff in part, were not too friendly IMO. Their CD selection has been going down for years.

    Now I shop at McKay's in Nashville, that you didn't mention, and I find a lot of great used cd titles there...but generally in the $4.99 to $9.99 range. About 3 to 5 times what I was paying in SLC.
  10. steelydanguy

    steelydanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    So I visited the Bay Area last week for about three and a half days and got a chance to shop at both Amoeba record stores in the region.

    I had visited the Berkeley store a couple of times previously, but those trips were more than 10 years ago and brief as my time was limited. This time I was able to get a pretty extensive look at the Berkeley store and the other Bay Area branch on Haight Street in San Francisco, near Golden Gate Park.

    Bottom line: The two Amoebas in the Bay Area are the best record stores I've ever visited. I say that as someone who's more of a CD lover than a vinyl aficionado (though I do collect both).

    The selection of CDs -- some new but many of them used and in very good condition -- was pretty mind-blowing at the Amoebas, which are huge, warehouse-like superstores. I saw many out-of-print, highly prized CDs that I usually don't spot in brick-and-mortar stores. The selection was really thorough and covered all sorts of genres -- rock, R&B, country, folk, bluegrass, jazz, blues, classical, vocals . . . you name it. Both stores also had nice music book selections, though the San Francisco branch's offerings were especially nice.

    The CD selection was so amazing at the Amoebas that I didn't even get much of a chance to see the vinyl offerings -- and those bins appeared to cover a lot of real estate, too. Basically I spent hours looking through the CDs, seeing all sorts of items I considered for purchase.

    I've been to other record stores with national reputations -- Waterloo in Austin, Texas; Twist and Shout in Denver; the Sound Garden in Baltimore; the Electric Fetus in Minneapolis -- and none of them come close to matching the depth and quality that Amoeba does. I'd love to visit the Hollywood branch sometime, too, as I've read that it's even larger than the Northern California stores. I'm jealous of Bay Area residents for having two Amoebas in their backyard. Awesome places!
    Rodz42 likes this.
  11. ubiknik

    ubiknik Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL USA
    You haven't been to Raffi's Record Riot? -You gotta see that place and give a review...
    Groovin' High is never open as far as I can tell.
  12. Rodz42

    Rodz42 Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL
    Never been to Raffi's. I have heard from multiple people that it isn't any good, so I haven't gone out of my way. Still, I want to see it for myself one of these days.

    Groovin High is open every once in a blue moon. I was last there in the Spring
  13. Dr Jackson

    Dr Jackson Forum Resident

    I've been to waterloo in Austin. It does live up to the hype. The variety is staggering and they have plenty of floor space.
  14. MKHopkins

    MKHopkins Cool Aid Chemist

    Beaver Falls, PA
    I sort of take this back. If you can find Sig's Lagoon (it is actually around the corner from its address on Main) it's worth the time. I thought it was somewhat pricey but they have a nice selection. The guy at the counter showed me what was where. Nice place.
  15. SJP

    SJP Forum Resident

    I too have been around the block, so to speak, in terms of having had the opportunity to visit many music stores over the years. Opinions can vary but I have to call out this unsupported comment as being patently unfair. It does a disservice to anyone who might have avoided Rhino because of such a comment.

    Having been a frequent Rhino customer for more years than I can remember, I rarely go in there without dropping $50-100 on some really cool finds. I was just there last weekend and picked up a couple remarkable vinyl titles along with a handful of CDs, all of which I couldn't be happier with to add to my collection.

    I love Amoeba as well (all locations) but if given the choice in the LA area between Amoeba and Rhino, I can do serious damage at both. Different damage, but damage nonetheless...never with any disappointment at either. It becomes a matter of convenience as Rhino is a bit closer with little or no traffic compared to Amoeba.

    I have and will recommend Rhino to anyone visiting SoCal looking for the best music stores our region has to offer. If Amoeba is #1 (cannot argue that point), Rhino's #2 in my book is nothing to be ashamed of.
  16. Vinyl Addict

    Vinyl Addict Forum Resident

    Mystery Train in Gloucester MA.
    Very rude staff. I brought $115 dollars worth of used records up to the counter. I made an offer of $100, and they 2 employees stood there and laughed at me. I mean like a good belly laugh too.
    I left their records on the counter, turned around and walked out.

    The thing is, before going there, I read online that they will accept offers on records.
    Mr. LP Collector likes this.
  17. Mr. LP Collector

    Mr. LP Collector Forum Resident

    If they indeed advertise "offers taken" well, that's a tacky way to do business. Do they happen to show up at the various shows in the NE? I live on the other side of the country and have been to several record shows in different states in the heartland (just not recently though). At shows pretty much everyone cuts a deal here and there.
  18. Vinyl Addict

    Vinyl Addict Forum Resident


    It's not that they advertised that they accept offers. I read it somewhere online on Yelp or something. It was in the reviews.
    Ive never seen them at any of the local record shows. If I did, I wouldn't even give them the time of day. Just very rude the way they handled it.

    In your experience, what part of the country has the best Record Shows?
  19. Mr. LP Collector

    Mr. LP Collector Forum Resident

    I've never been to the Claremont store (am not a SoCal resident) but their store on Santa Monica blvd? Years ago I went in there and dropped $150 plus-coulda spent more. Been there a few other times and always found good stuff. And I'm all over the board on musical tastes, both vinyl and CD.

    I'm going out to Ventura in about a month and plan on hitting a half dozen shops. Out of curiosity I'll stop in there and will update this thread and tell ya my experience.
  20. Mr. LP Collector

    Mr. LP Collector Forum Resident

    Denver's conventions have really picked up the last few years. Big K productions promotes it. Dates are usually mid-Spring and late Summer/early Fall. Their next one will be first Sunday in April. IIRC they list their shows in either Record Shows Of America or Vinyl Times . They have an attractive website and their upcoming swap is noted there.

    Albuquerque's are really good. Held twice a year, at the Elegante Hotel off I-25. In fact, theirs is going to be the Sunday after Denver's. Mike Walsh has promoted it since the late 80's. Google in Albuquerque record Convention- a couple cool you tubes will pop up that I think you'll like.

    Omaha for the last decade has only had shows twice a year. That might change as their record club is thinking of going back to 3 with a show on the last Sunday in February. Their other two are in late Spring and Fall.

    And in the believe it or not department, Salt Lake City has never had anyone promote shows there-never. And I can't figure out why.
  21. Spanish Prisoner

    Spanish Prisoner Forum Resident

    Central New Jersey
    Wow. That's really obnoxious behavior on multiple levels. I think if you're spending over $100 in an independent, there's absolutely nothing wrong with asking for a discount.

    Some stores have a set discount policy for purchases over $100. The Princeton Record Exchange discounts 6% for cash and 3% for credit card purchases over $100.
    ARK and Vinyl Addict like this.
  22. Spanish Prisoner

    Spanish Prisoner Forum Resident

    Central New Jersey
    I was at a record show over Thanksgiving weekend and got some deals, but I had to ask for them. This generally works best when you're buying multiple items from the same dealer.

    Last year, I had an unpleasant experience with another dealer when I asked for a discount on a stack of CD's. I think any dealer at a record show, should expect people to haggle a bit.
    Vinyl Addict likes this.
  23. Rodz42

    Rodz42 Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL
    I could be wrong, but I don't think the Santa Monica blvd store was affiliated with the Claremont store (different owners that happen to have the same name)
  24. Vinyl Triangle:
    Princeton Record Exchange, Princeton, NJ
    Siren Records, Doylestown, PA (side trips: Golden Nuggett flea Market, Lambertville, NJ and Vinyl shop, Frenchtown, NJ)
    Doubledecker, Allentown, PA (side trips: Play It Again, Bethlehem, PA,Compact Disc Center, Bethlehem, PA, and Vinyl shop, Hellertown)

    Bordentown, NJ also worth sidetrip: Randy's Man Cave, and The REcord Collector
    then cross over to Levittown, PA to Positively Records
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
    steelydanguy likes this.
  25. LordThanos1969

    LordThanos1969 Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    While Waterloo does have a large floor space and a large amount of new product, their stock of used records is pathetic and they have way too many pirate pressings from Mexico.
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