Discussion in 'Music, Movie and Hardware Store Guide' started by panicproject, Dec 28, 2017.
Any suggestions for spots to buy records (or used cds) in Cape Cod?
Spinnaker in Hyannis still has used CDs. I also like Instant Karma in Orleans.
Several events have been happening that made me want to ask this question. Here in New England we had Tower Records, Virgin and HMV megastores. I have recently watched with interest and "jealousy" all of the YouTube vids about the re-opening of Amoeba Records. I also re-watched All Things Must Pass about the demise of Tower Records. This coupled with the COVID situation improving had me thinking about a road trip somewhere in New England. I was wondering what is the biggest record store(s) similar to Amoeba Records but here in New England is. I will add the following additional wish list items:
Tower and the other megastores had a huge selections of new records. I am looking for a store carrying lots of new titles. Ideally as many new as used. I don't mind paying a little more and getting instant gratification in a store vs. having to get them via various mail order sites. It would be great if they carried MoFi's and other such high quality pressings such as Tone Poets, Classic Series or the Acoustic Sounds Series.
These days the majority of the records in the store are probably going to be used, but ideally they should be well-curated, well organized and decent quality. There are many stores I have seen that have thousands or tens of thousands of used. records, but you are left to yourself. There are boxes and boxes of mixed contents with zero organization.
Ideally there should be well organized areas or departments for the major genres: Rock, Jazz, Classical, Country, Soundtracks etc. Hopefully they have enough content that there can be areas for sub-genres too.
Any $1 records and similar content should be in their own separate area or only in the lower bins. Any good quality used titles should be in the upper browsing bins or on the wall. Any regular content down near the floor should be easy to access without having to crawl around on the floor. Pull out drawers that can be viewed from above are an example.
I have always been more of a music lover than a record collector. Yes I do have about 1,500 records these days but they are for listening to. I personally don't get enjoyment out of searching through boxes upon boxes of random crappy records hoping to find the one holy grail. Also I am not looking through used records to get multiple variations or the best pressings for my favorite records. Nothing wrong with that, just not my cup of tea. I am happy to either get a good sounding used copy of my favorite LPs or a decent repressing. Yeah maybe this means I have turned into a lazy old fart, so be it. I want to spend my time looking through a well organized group of records that are easy to make my way through quickly. My days of crawling around the floor are getting to be behind me.
So are there any big record stores in New England similar to Amoeba and that have some of the characteristics I mentioned? Thanks in advance
Closest to what you're asking for is the Newbury Comics superstore in Norwood. I think Bull Moose has a similar store in...I want to say Scarborough, ME.
The only caveat about that store is that I've bought a number of used records (from the regular bins, not the bargain bins) that were noisier than I'd have liked, so be forewarned. I haven't been there in a year and a half but they usually seem to have a crappy Crosley record player available to listen before you buy so I recommend availing yourself of that, even if a record looks clean.
On the other hand, I've found some nice, listenable gems in the bargain and dollar bins (60s/70s original pressings that were not 100% silent but not trashed), and those bins are easily accessible (at normal height) in the back of the store.
So on balance, I would also recommend this place as being worth the drive from Chelmsford.
Thanks. I have been to both of those stores and several of the larger Bull Mooses in Maine. While they are good, back in the day, they would have been a mid-sized store. The Newbury Comics in Norwood reminds me of the Tower store in Burlington. It was 20 minutes from me and I used to go there once a week for CDs. Once a month I would hit Tower Boston or HMV or Virgin in Cambridge to pick up what I couldn't find at Tower Burlington.
It's all Amoeba's fault, makes me long for days long gone in the record store game. I was hoping some store was off my radar.
Thanks. I agree it's a worthy drive from Chelmsford. As I said in my response above @Danby Delight, I was hoping some store in maybe Worcester or Providence or someplace I don't go to very often may have a store that was flying under the radar. Like you, I haven't been there in a year and a half probably for the same reason as you. One thing I wonder about is if they have downsized their records department. Just before everything shut down, I noticed the Newbury in Nashua had down sized the amount of records they carried. I went there last month on the Sunday after RSD, and found they seemed to have about 60% of the amount of records they used to carry. The same is true for the Burlington store. I hope Newbury Norwood has not done the same thing. It is annoying to see trinkets and bobble head dolls replacing LPs. Actually the Bull Moose in Porstmouth, NH had downsized considerably too.
I have bought about 20 records from the standard used bins and fortunately my UCM was able to take care of most of the noise. But thanks for the tip about trying before buying
not really the kind of store you're looking for, but since you mentioned MoFi's and other such high quality pressings such as Tone Poets, Classic Series or the Acoustic Sounds Series... i thought i'd mention Music Connection in Manchester NH.
he bought a very nice collection recently and i did pick up several records from those labels.
he's also got quite a few bins of 'rock' records from the same collection.
no real bargains on any of this stuff, but it's kinda nice to see records of this caliber in person in an actual b & m store.
i should also mention this, because i personally have mixed feeling about it: very few of the records i've browsed were priced -- he'll look them up on discogs to determine a price if you're interested in purchasing something.
and, for the sake of transparency: i am in no way affiliated with this store
Me, I can't stand Amoeba. Zero interest in any store where you have to pack a lunch in order to make even a cursory circuit. Give me a small. well-curated store that mostly aligns with my tastes any day.
I'm curious: Did you ever go to Tower in Boston or HMV or Virgin in Cambridge and what was your opinion of those? Do you see them different or similar to today's Amoeba?
I can not and will not deal with this. Poor business practice, in my opinion.
Virgin was not in Cambridge. It briefly took over the Tower space at Mass Ave and Newbury above the Hynes subway stop, and only lasted about a year, maybe a little longer. (It's now a TJ Maxx.)
None of those three stores was particularly Amoeba-like. I found all of them overpriced and understocked when it came to things I actually wanted to buy.
For reference, my ideal huge-ass record store was the original Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street in Toronto. Although my then girlfriend, now wife, unknowingly broke my heart after the first time she took me there in 1996, after I spent three hours and about 400 CA dollars, when she said "You should have seen it in the 80s when it was REALLY good."
Oops you are so right about Virgin. I was having trouble placing where it was because I only went once and was not impressed. Not having been to Amoeba in person, I figured it was "Tower-like" but the mix was more used records than new. The other thing was I was 100% into CDs and not buying LPs at all. Tower Boston always had the Jazz CDs that I found in the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD and many of the rare punk and new wave import CDs I wanted.
I would have to agree with you on Sam the Record Man. It was my ideal H-ARS back when I was still buying records. I went to college in Detroit and lived there for 5 years afterwards. This was before CDs were even announced. I used to go to Toronto at least twice a year, sometimes more. Toronto was my favorite city in North America. Sam's was a primary attraction. I wold spend 2-3 hours at a time there and many CA $$. I often went back one or two times more before leaving, to see what I might have missed. I started bringing an extra empty suitcase with me to store the records in my hotel room out of the heat. Plus it was easy to roll the suitcase back down to my car when I left for Detroit.
Funny story: I stopped buying records in 1988 and for 30 years they sat in 4 U-Haul LP storage boxes. When I bought a new TT in 2018 one of the first things I did was start putting my LPs into Discogs. These were before records had barcodes on them so I used the matrix numbers. I started running into records I could not find a match for to save my life. I would limit my search to pressed in the US, say 1982 or earlier...nothing. I had many, many records like this and I wasted so much time trying to find my pressing. I used to find a close match and put: "Closest matrix no." in the remarks. Then one day I came upon an Elvis Costello album Live at the El Mocombo in Toronto on CHUM. It was a white label CBS of Canada promo copy intended for radio station airplay only. That was when light dawned on Marblehead and the Sam the Record Man price sticker confirmed my stupidity. I remember Sam's had many such LPs and bootlegs. All of the other LPs where I couldn't find a matching matrix for were Canadian pressings bought at Sam's or several record stores in Windsor, ONT across the river from Detroit. Vinyl memories from my college days. I remembered playing the LPs in my room in Detroit. I just wish I had remembered where I bought them sooner.
Those are my go to stores, depending where I am. I think that Newbury has a better vinyl selection while Bull Moose is stronger for all things digital, including movies.
Someone mentioned their smaller store in Portsmouth NH. It’s worth checking their used vinyl section. While small, it is very well organized, especially for classic rock.
With the caveat that I've only been to the two Bay Area locations, never to the L.A. store, Amoeba is more new than old, by about a 2:1 margin. The vibe isn't particularly Tower-like, which was always more shiny and chain-like.
That may have been me, I used to go every couple of months. The last time I went up there in 2019 they had reduced the size of their vinyl considerably. The way I remember it, the store occupied 2 adjacent interconnecting buildings within their block. The building on the left was the smaller of the two spaces and they had a back-to-back browser bins running front to back down the center of the space. These had remained the same. The larger space used to have used to have a large amount of used vinyl along the far side wall. This was reduced considerably, so much so it was longer worth the 60-70 minute drive for me. I was told by someone at the Salem BM that their buyer for that store no longer worked there and he was big into used vinyl. Maybe things are different now, but somehow I fear not. I can get about the same selection, if not more, of new vinyl at Salem for half the drive.
You are right, Tower definitely tended to have a more corporate look and vibe, but there were some cool and knowledgeable people working there. I like the 2:1 new to used ratio you were talking about in a large store like an Amoeba. I was hoping for at least 60:40. Sadly there seem to be few large record stores with a large and varied selection of new vinyl. I don't mind paying a little more for instant gratification and being able to drive home and put on a record. The other attraction was a well organized used section where you can go right to the artist(s) you are looking for. There are many stores with huge selections of used records but it is often disorganized chaos. I know that is fun for some folks, but I just don't have the patience for that.
Check out my review of Redscroll Records in Wallingford CT (from a week or two ago). They have a lot of new LPs (you can check out their stock on Discogs) and reasonably-well-organized used records. Might be worth a two-hour drive.
Thanks, lots to check out. I visited their website and I se they have a podcast too.
I live in the NH area and had a lousy experience with Music Connection in Manchester a few months ago. Normally I wouldn't want to impact someone's livelihood. I actually reached out to him on Discogs afterward and sent him the following note. His only reply was to send me a post of a customer review that recommended him after they purchased online the boxset I had inquired about while in his store. My email follows:
Hi. I was in your physical store this past weekend and was disappointed by how rude you were to me. I had interest in buying a few jazz CD boxsets you had. Only one was priced. I waited patiently while you attended to another customer. I then asked what the prices were for the sets without tags (the Evans being one of the items). Two times you replied to me "they're expensive". You finally priced one when I asked a third time and while you were pricing the second I decided I didn't want to do business with you.
I make an annual six figure salary and suspect my yearly earnings are higher than your own. I could be wrong. I only say the former because it puzzles me as to why you would treat a potential customer this way unless you judged by their appearance they could not afford an item.
It is too bad for both of us. CD collecting has been a lifelong enjoyable hobby for me and I had shopped in your store on a couple of other occasions. I won't be returning and am really disappointed with your rude behavior.
** So a few places I would recommend that I think were mentioned already - and I'm strictly speaking for CDs altough they all do have vinyl but I don't collect it - are: Turn It Up! In Brattleboro VT, Welfare Records in Haverhill MA and Record Exchange in Salem MA. Good selection, accommodating/friendly staffs and everything is priced
Just more of a buyer beware. I believe in trying to treat each other with decency.
I hit up Mystery Train in Gloucester the other week because I remember it being a sort of digger's type of store.
Overall I came out with a nice stack of about 15 records that were mostly priced $4.50. I think the most expensive was $6.50. I'm more than okay with that but I was sort of surprised by their lack of "money" records. Maybe they do that side of the business online.
Regardless, I recommend it if you like finding oddball records for cheap.
I've been buying records from Mystery Train since the 80s (Boston and Cambridge shops mostly, both long-gone). I wound up buying something from them on Discogs recently (the Gloucester store); I think it was a new record. Nice to see they're still around.
I've been buying from Mystery Train since my friend Peter was running their Newbury Street store back in the day, but they've never been about the big ticket items. I don't think I've ever paid more than $15 for an LP there. Especially not in the Gloucester store, which you kind of have to have know about to even find it.
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