Toronto Record Stores?

Discussion in 'Music, Movie and Hardware Store Guide' started by StevenC, Feb 29, 2020.

  1. StevenC

    StevenC SUEDE > Both Oasis AND Blur. Thread Starter

    Have never been to Toronto.
    Will be there next week.
    Short period of time, only in Toronto so no time to venture outside of Toronto.

    Looking for a record shop that would have nicer condition used records, collectible maybe?
    A little less interested in sealed re-issues I can get at home in California, though I do wish HMV still existed.

    Would love any recommendations.... Thanks!
     
  2. stepeanut

    stepeanut Holmes Boy

    I know you said you don’t want to leave Toronto, but do you just mean downtown? That would be a shame because my favourite record shop in the area is Ric’s Recollections in Port Credit, Mississauga, which is on the lake, southwest of the city centre:

    Used Vinyl Records - Ric's Recollections

    He has a great selection, including some nice collectible stuff. Nice guy, reasonable prices, open to negotiation.
     
  3. Swirly Wilbury

    Swirly Wilbury Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    Sonic Boom
    215 Spadina Avenue, near Chinatown.
    New and used LPs and CDs.
    I find it a little on the expensive side, but with your US dollars, you might not so much.

    Sonic Boom Music: We Buy Records
     
    Daryl M likes this.
  4. mcrichley

    mcrichley Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Cosmos West has a huge collection of vintage pressings, mostly jazz. Lots of Japan imports too.
     
  5. BTR75

    BTR75 Active Member

    Location:
    Toronto
  6. audiolab1

    audiolab1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    My fave record shop in downtown Toronto is Rotate This on Ossington:

    Rotate This | Music Makes Us Happy

    If the weather is nice it's in a very cool area of town with lots of great bars, restaurants, and shops. You could walk west on Queen street towards Ossington and you'll see all kinds of great places. If you're a craft beer fan you need to visit Bellwoods Brewery that's just south of Rotate This.

    As mentioned above, Sonic Boom is another great shop with a huge selection of new vinyl. I find used can be hit and miss depending on when you go. Certainly check out the new arrivals to your left near the entrance, then venture downstairs and walk to the back of the store where you'll find some nice collectibles.

    Have fun!
     
    eddiel likes this.
  7. StevenC

    StevenC SUEDE > Both Oasis AND Blur. Thread Starter

    Thank you! I am a craft Brew fan and I will try to hit the three recommendations above...
     
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  8. ShortstackRecords

    ShortstackRecords Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Tim 2, eddiel and mcrichley like this.
  9. rjp

    rjp Senior Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    we used to go to toronto for a one-night stay just to go CD shopping at sam's and all the other stores on yonge street.

    if i am not mistaken they are all gone now :(
     
  10. Adam9

    Adam9 Senior Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    Yes, no reason for me to go to Yonge St. anymore. Not one record store left where there used to be many.:(
     
  11. mantis4tons

    mantis4tons Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO, USA
    +1 for Cosmos, which is one of the best record stores anywhere IMO.
     
  12. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Unfortunately you are not mistaken. There are still a few stragglers selling new cds, Sonic Boom is one and Soundscapes is another (my favourite). Mike's on Danforth sells new cds too. But the glory days are truly over.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2020
    Adam9 likes this.
  13. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    There's a cluster of stores that are close by in this city that have their positive points so you could do a few in one day quite easily (depending on how much browsing time you have). You can map these out and between walking and public transport you can cover a lot of these. Also, for most of these locations, there's plenty of food, drink options as well. Keep in mind that you get a 2 hr public transport window with all transfers, which basically means you get off at one record store, browse and if you can get back on a bus or streetcar or subway within 2 hrs you don't pay another fair.

    In no particular order...

    If you are looking for collectible and rarer items Cosmos is probably the best in the city for that. Prices are high though. They have two locations, Cosmos East is more Rock/Soul/Funk oriented. Cosmo's West (just a short walk from their East location) is more jazz, Brazilian focused but they have a small rock section too. You want that record that you only see on eBay or Discogs? Chances are they have it at the back. :) https://www.cosmosrecords.ca/ If there is a specific title you want that is rare, ask, they might have it.

    Shortstack is worth a visit as well. Fair pricing here. They do get things on the collectible side as well. Smaller shop and they have a feverish customer base at times so things can go quickly. Worth looking at their website for new arrivals if you are in town. Shortstack Records - We Buy Records - Toronto

    Since you're on Dundas visiting Shortstack you can wander down Dundas, or grab the bus and get off at Ossington and hit up Rotate. They have new and used records. Their used prices are also fair. The selection wouldn't be as collectible but they do have nice stuff. Look at their wall behind the t/ts and above the new releases for some of their rarer stuff. Rotate This | Music Makes Us Happy

    Sonic Boom, downstairs they have, at the back, some rare crates. It's worth a visit to see those but their regular used selection is very hit and miss only because they cannot keep stuff in stock. They are by far the biggest record store in town. Their used stuff flies off the shelf fast so, if it were me and I was short of time, I'd go here after hitting up the other spots first. Unless you want used cds in which case it's the best option in town.

    If you have to prioritise then I'd hit up Cosmo East (or West if you are more jazz oriented) and then Shortstack. From there I would do Rotate and Sonic.

    Another tip, if you see a BMV Books, pop in. Most locations have used cds and records and they are growing their business, esp wrt to records. Worth popping into and ask to see their rare box.

    Some general observations...you will likely find that common meat and potatoes type stock is more expensive up here even with the exchange rate discount US buyers get. I base this on comments from others and also my own when shopping in the US (NYC). On the other hand, I have found that higher end collectibles can often be cheaper here than in the US.

    Oh, if you have time and venture out to the east end of the city Tiny Records is worth visiting. Very small shop, ok prices on some things, not so much on others, but it's very well curated. They often have certain genres they focus on for a period of time as well. It's just a bit out of the way considering the amount of time you have Tiny Record Shop | Not Your Average Record Shop
     
  14. StevenC

    StevenC SUEDE > Both Oasis AND Blur. Thread Starter

    Thanks. I really only had time for one. I elected to go to Rotate This.
    It was about a "B" on a normal grading scale.
    Lots of re-issues, very sparse used in great shape records.
    There was one Smashing Pumpkins "Siamese Dream" album on the wall... an original but the black one not the rarer colored version and it was still $230.00 CAD.

    I did get three items though for approx $100

    If ever you guys go to NYC, check out Stranded Records. That's more of the store I was hoping for.
     
  15. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Yeah you picked the wrong store in that case. Should've listened to my advice but I suspect the craft beer near Rotate pitch swayed your choice :D

    Thanks for the Stranded Records heads up. I'll be in town for the WFMU fair and we're hoping to carve out some time to get out and hit up some record shops over the bridge :)
     
  16. StevenC

    StevenC SUEDE > Both Oasis AND Blur. Thread Starter

    Stranded is great. It was originally from Oakland California. Next came San Francisco but the NY Store is the best. Smallish, but the gems I found in there were great. Some of the finds last time I was in there:

    The Cure "Wish" original UK vinyl from 1992, Near Mint
    Depeche Mode "Violator" 1990 German vinyl, VG ++
    Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon" 1993 Harvest Records, VG++
    Nitzer Ebb "Showtime" - 1990 German vinyl, VG++
    New Order "Low-Life", US vinyl with the rice paper band on it VG++

    Yes, the beer put me over the edge... :)

    But then, maybe this stuff isn't your cup of tea?
     
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  17. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada


    Yeah I like that sort of stuff too :) generally we try and get stuff that we can't find so easily up here without having to resort to online purchasing during our WFMU/NYC trip. I usually have a rough idea as to what I want but a lot of the times you get sidetracked as you discover a bunch of stuff you didn't even think of looking for :)
     
  18. Torontotom

    Torontotom Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    Sadly, Soundscapes is closing. Apparently, this weekend a closing sale is starting (started?) but not sure what their last day is. It's being reported on Twitter. Very sad.
     
  19. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Ah that sucks. I wondered how long they could hang on for even before covid. Such a shame though as it's such a great store.

    They had a great selection of music. Very well curated and they carried some great titles. I always discovered something new there whenever I stopped in.

    I was just thinking about them today as I think they carry Record Collector magazine and there's an upcoming issue I was interested in. I guess I'll have to order it online now. I can't think of any shop in the city that carries it.

    Kind of weird that they haven't posted anything on their official twitter account or website about the closing. Mind you, sort of fits them in a way as they weren't always the most vocal shop in town. Still, you'd think they'd want people to know you are having a closing sale.

    They aren't too far from me so I'll pop in tomorrow.
     
    Torontotom likes this.
  20. Danby Delight

    Danby Delight Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston
    Of the stores still open, the two Cosmos locations are the ones that get the vast majority of my money, but that's because between the Brazilian, soundtrack, and library music sections, they're the closest to my tastes.

    Still, I will never forget my first visit to the Yonge Street Sam in 1996. When we left after three hours (and several hundred CADs spent) of the greatest record shopping experience of my entire life, my then-girlfriend, now-wife said the single most cruel thing she has ever said to me: "You should have seen it in the '80s when it was really good."
     
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  21. Adam9

    Adam9 Senior Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    Maybe cruel, but accurate!
     
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  22. Torontotom

    Torontotom Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    Soundscapes is still liquidating their stuff. They have lots of Play Copies for sale. For regular CDs, it's 50% off. I believe for vinyl too but I don't collect vinyl and they didn't seem to have a lot left. They also have videos for 50% off. Not much left but I was able to pick up some Criterion Blu-rays like Bob Dylan Don't Look Back.

    They still have a decent selection of CDs left. Picked up the Joe Simon Step by Step collection from Real Gone Music.
     
    eddiel likes this.
  23. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    I was there just over a week ago. There can't be more than 20 lps left. Those went pretty quickly. I found a couple, left a couple behind. Spent a lot on cds though!


    We talked a bit about the store closing and he said that even without the pandemic, he thought that realistically they only had a couple of years left anyway due to the drop in cd sales.

    I plan to go back this week to have one more look through the play copies. I ran out of time during my last visit so couldn't get through them all. I can't see them being open past September and wouldn't be surprised if they close earlier if he moves enough stuff.

    I asked if he had any stock left to put out but he said what's out is pretty much it so what you can see if what he has left.
     
    Torontotom likes this.
  24. Torontotom

    Torontotom Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    I had held off visiting figuring it would be too busy but it was pretty quiet. From what you said, I assume vinyl was first to go. I was surprised to find some Criterion Blu-rays. I find these closing sales bittersweet. I love the discounts but, as a loyal customer, there is a tinge of sadness. I felt that way about HMV closing. I feel bad for the staff, for music in general.

    I was surprised Soundscapes had some nice stuff left. Picked up some Real Gone Music compilations (Porter Wagoner and Joe Simon) that are out of print. They still had some Jerry Lee Lewis CDs and some reggae CDs which caught my interest but there are definitely a lot of play copies to go through.
     
    eddiel likes this.
  25. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    They updated their website. Official closing is September 30th. I'll get in one or two visits before they close. I'll probably go in the 29th just in case there's some really great bargains to be had. :)
     
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