Toronto's Top 10 Record Shops!

Discussion in 'Music, Movie and Hardware Store Guide' started by Johnny Vinyl, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. Johnny Vinyl

    Johnny Vinyl Vinylholic Thread Starter

  2. AdamChanSiuLung

    AdamChanSiuLung Forum Resident

    Location:
    NEW YORK, NEW YORK
    Nice article, Toronto is a city that's on my short list of desired places to visit.

    I liked the photo of The Tiny Record Shop, I'm a big soundtrack fan and easily recognized most of those albums and own about half.
     
    Johnny Vinyl likes this.
  3. eelkiller

    eelkiller Now with enhanced loudness

    This is a bit off topic but deals with stores in the GTA, I just saw that Mike Shulga, founder of Star Records passed away in September of last year. Very sad news, I really enjoyed visiting his store in Oshawa and "donating to the cause".
     
  4. DeRosa

    DeRosa Forum Resident

    As a long time Toronto resident, I think they got the top 5 pretty dialed.
    Ric's is almost all used, and Sonic Boom is great for reissues these days,
    they both have selection. Once you get outside of the downtown, there
    are other places in Hamilton and Dundas Ontario that are also doing a
    very good job.
     
  5. Johnny Vinyl

    Johnny Vinyl Vinylholic Thread Starter

    Ric's is mostly used, like many of the others, but he has a terrific reissues and audiophile section.
     
    DeRosa likes this.
  6. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    Wow. I looked up Vortex, it has closed!

    http://www.vortexrecords.ca/

    After almost 40 years of music retail in Toronto, Bert has decided to retire. Since you can't have Vortex without its founder, we've decided to close up shop. We thank all of our customers for their patronage. It's been an interesting four decades!

    Happy retirement, Bert!
     
    Johnny Vinyl likes this.
  7. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    The list is missing Good Music, which I think beats many of the stores on the list. Currently located at 1611 Dundas St W. He's looking for a permanent home. Great selection and he pays very good prices when buying. The best in the city IMO. Owned by the former manager of Vortex.

    If you're looking for used records Sonic Boom is almost useless unless you are there the moment they put out the new arrivals (which is the same time everyday apparently). Otherwise you're wasting your time. For new stuff, it's excellent, although their prices tend to be higher.

    Tiny Records shop has a good selection, but the prices can be high. Definitely worth a visit.

    She Said Boom is very hit and miss. It's a better bookstore than it is a record store. Not an essential visit in my opinion, unless you're in the area. I made the trek to their Roncesvalles location and I was not happy with the time wasted until I came across a bakery selling Chelsea Buns. :)

    I made it out to Pandemonium awhile back for the first time. Definitely would recommend that store. Lots of stock.

    If I had to pick my favourite stores in the city it would be Good Music (for used lps), Rotate (for new and used) and Cosmos (prices are higher but the quality and selection is there). I'd say Rotate has some of the best prices in the city. Actually I'd throw June Records onto that last as well. Both new and used lps. Decent prices, helpful staff. Of course the other stores have positive points too, but these are my main go to shops.

    I wish was closer to Ric's though. I first bought from him back in the 80's when he was at flea markets and record shows. I remember his first store. But I don't have a car and live too far from his current location.
     
    Repeter13 likes this.
  8. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    You should take advantage of the excellent exchange rates in favour of the US dollars! Almost 40c on the dollar these days! That's a pretty good discount on records :)

    You could easily spend a weekend hitting up the record stores on the list and run out of time. There are more that didn't make the list. The good thing about the location of many of the stores on the list (and off) is that they're all in locations with other stuff happening so you could easily stop for a drink here or there, bite to eat, etc without having to go out of the way.

    Also if you time your visit right (either spring or fall) you can also attend the Downtown Record Show. Next one is in April 3rd if you're making plans :)

    Anyway..back to record stores.
     
    AdamChanSiuLung likes this.
  9. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Yup closed. I went to the 3rd day of his sale hoping to get some boxsets for a decent price, but they were almost all gone. Lot's of space in the racks. The discounts were generous. They hit 50% before X-mass. During the last week he was open cds were $3, then $2 each and apparently someone still tried to haggle. lol.
     
  10. AdamChanSiuLung

    AdamChanSiuLung Forum Resident

    Location:
    NEW YORK, NEW YORK
    Isn't the NHL Hall of Fame in Toronto? I've also heard that Toronto has a decent if not comparable to NY's Chinatown. Hmmmmmmm. If money wasn't a problem, I'd make definite plans to visit.
     
  11. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Yeah it's here. Not too far from my work. Looks nice from the outside. Never been in though. NYC Chinatown is huge. But Toronto's is comparable considering density, etc. Sonic Boom is pretty much in Chinatown :)
     
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  12. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
  13. Alternative4

    Alternative4 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Zealand
    Where is the best place to pick up some Rush vinyl?
     
  14. Adam9

    Adam9 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    T
    Try Pandemonium. The proprietor was the model for the Power Windows album cover. Seriously though, there's a large vinyl collection although I don't know how much Rush Neil has.
     
    Repeter13 likes this.
  15. Alternative4

    Alternative4 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Zealand
    Thanks.
     
  16. Adam9

    Adam9 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Here's an article in today's paper about the Rush album cover.

    Rush's Power Windows a window into record-store owner’s past
    30 years ago, Neill Cunningham was the cover model for Rush’s Power Windows. Now, he finally stocks the record at his store.

    By: Nick Patch Entertainment Reporter, Published on Wed Jan 20 2016
    Whenever Neill Cunningham wants to peer at himself through a 30-year-old portal, he need only pluck Rush’s Power Windows off the shelf.

    There on the cover of the 1985 concept album is a young Cunningham, posing bare-chested in flimsy white pajama pants, his eyes fixed on the camera. On the back, there’s shirtless Cunningham again, gazing through a set of binoculars.

    Cunningham was a waiter then, and over the ensuing years held a variety of jobs: government temp, factory worker, bicycle courier. But in 2000 he opened the Junction book and record store Pandemonium, and just last week received a shipment that whisked him back: a big bundle of the new Power Windows vinyl reissue.

    He promptly assembled enough copies to cover the wall behind his counter, a monument to his moment in the limelight.

    “How many record store owners get to sell records of themselves?” mused Cunningham, 52. “(The display) is hard to miss. I’m just having fun with it.”

    Originally, Cunningham became involved with the project by happenstance. His friend Marcus Pearson was working for photographer Dimo Safari, who was crafting the cover for Rush’s upcoming record — a transitional, pop-leaning album awash in chilled synths — and was seeking a “skinny blond” punk for the cover.

    [​IMG]
    CARLOS OSORIO / TORONTO STAR Order this photo

    Neill Cunningham, owner of Pandemonium Records in the Junction, poses with the recently reissued LP of Rush's "Power Windows," for which his younger self was the cover model.

    Cunningham happened to be skinny and blond (“still am”) and leapt at the opportunity.

    “Dimo had been working with Madonna, so I was all excited at the idea I could be on a Madonna cover,” he recalled. “When he said Rush, I was like, ‘yeah, oh, all right. Not bad either.’”

    The shoot was conducted over two arduous nights in Cabbagetown, with the March wind snapping through the open window. Once captured, the photo was painted over by Hugh Syme.

    Cunningham’s work wasn’t finished. When it came time to shoot the vaguely Monopoly-themed music video for lead single “The Big Money” — a gloriously ’80s artifact worth watching for its primitive graphics, Alex Lifeson’s powder-blue suit and Neil Peart’s majestic braided mullet — Cunningham was again featured.

    “There’s this terrible mid-’80s special effect of me spiralling in with my binoculars and spiralling out.”

    One perk was a backstage pass to Rush’s 1986 show at Maple Leaf Gardens, where Cunningham gawked at his image plastered 50 feet high. He met the band then for the first and only time. “I didn’t have a lot to say,” he concedes.

    CARLOS OSORIO

    Cunningham assembled enough copies of "Power Windows" to cover the wall behind the counter of his record store.

    In fact, Cunningham wasn’t much into the band then, preferring the ruggedly succinct punk of the Ramones and the Cramps. He’s become a Rush fan since, and he’s certainly passionate about Power Windows. Among the cherished souvenirs in his Power Windows collection: a tour program, a book of guitar tablature, a signed lithograph and a hulking promotional cardboard cutout.

    The album’s cover was high-concept, with three TV screens mysteriously arrayed behind Cunningham’s wooden chair. Power Windows won best album graphics at the 1986 Juno Awards, though Cunningham concedes he never really understood the concept.

    “It’s sad to say,” he said. “I’ve thought about it. I think in the Rush world, it does make sense.”

    He reckons he’s been recognized only once, by a Rush fan on the streetcar. “I denied it was me.”

    The connection is bound to be made more frequently now that he spends his days standing in front of a Power Windows wall. Cunningham says there’s never been much demand for that particular Rush record, and an even more “rarefied market” likely exists for this new, pricier version ($29.99) of the LP.

    Still, he couldn’t resist stocking up.

    “I had to do the wall,” he laughed. “You would have done the wall too.”

    http://www.thestar.com/entertainmen...s-a-window-into-record-store-owners-past.html
     
  17. Adam9

    Adam9 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Amoroso on St. Patrick St. is having a closing sale, 70% off.
    A lot of stuff is gone but I managed to pick up Michael Wilson Thomas SFS Prokofiev disc and an O'Connor/Ma/Meyer disc.
    It was a good store, while it lasted (actually open until June 12) and not just for classical or jazz - I found an original mix Help! CD there.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2016
  18. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Ah that's a shame. I used to visit whenever I was in that part of town. It was a pretty good store for both lps and cds.
    I went their mainly for the jazz but my friend used to find all sorts of great rock lps there.

    I'll have to pay a visit as soon as I can. Might go this weekend if I get the chance.
     
  19. Repeter13

    Repeter13 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto,ON, CA
    Not a bad list - though the omission of Good Music is glaring to me as well. As is Kops - all three locations (soon to be four when they open in old Star Records in the 'shwa)

    Other places not mentioned.

    For those of you considering a trip here - College St. has a bunch of new shops Loon Records, Quixotic Sounds, and the relocated Play De Record (on Spadina south of College) are worth a look - and if you like combined book/record/cd shops She Said Boom has two locations one at Roncesvalles and Howard Park (the street the 505 College streetcar takes) and one at College and Augusta(Kensington Market).

    Dundas - has LPs LPs, Tonality Records, Grasshopper Records and Good Music - not to mention Rotate This just south of Dundas on Ossington.

    Bloor St - has seen a few new places of late with Cabin Fever (coffee/vinyl/pinball place), Zoinks (vinyl/books), Dead Dog Records (merch/cd/vinyl - the old Sunrise peeps), and the aforementioned Kops Bloor (and their Danforth location, which is well east of the rest).

    Queen St - has lost quite a few shops due to rent increases - but still boasts a few gems - Short Stack Records (in the Black Market), Kops (Queen), Planet Of Sound(mostly a gear shop but has a lot of audiophile pressings, and some used), Cosmos (both locations), Sonic Boom (on Spadina a block north of Queen), and in the east end In The Groove, Tiny Record Shop & Discovery Records.
     
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  20. tovinylguy

    tovinylguy New Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    Repeter13 and Johnny Vinyl like this.
  21. Dan Steele

    Dan Steele Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago suburbs
    Go there a lot for work, in fact just got back Friday, and stay downtown. Liked the article and will try some of these other ones but surprised Kop's on Queen is not on their list. It is right around the corner from where I stay and is the type of shop i like, it's been there for a long time, no frills, lots of used vinyl and the best collection of 45s (top floor) I've ever seen. Be aware no cds. The 45s were not cheap but were in great condition and factoring in anything in Canada is 25% off right now I bought several. The store on the list I did just visit was Sonic Boom on Spadina. A lot newer looking but they did have a large selection although not much in used jazz which was dissapointing. They do have a lot of cds and I bought several there both jazz and classic rock. If you are a fan be sure to look for steely dan greatest hits 1972-1978 which was only issued in Canada, I think that Cinram cd sounds great.
     
  22. weaselriot

    weaselriot Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I was in Toronto November 2011, on Yonge I think near a college. Buildings in area were not high rise type. I was in a pretty good-sized record store there and purchased the (then) recently released "Wish You Were Here". It was on the east side of the street (on the right when facing toward downtown). The store itself was not a narrow front with deep space going far back like some I have seen, but more wide front and less deep, lots of windows to the street. The main LP bins ran across the store left to right, parallel to the sidewalk outside. From the door looking in, checkout was at a high counter running back from the street along the right side wall. I seem to recall some 45rpm bins in front of that high counter. Along with new stock LPs they also had CD sections.

    It was no match for, say, the legendary Record Hunter in New York or Rose Records downtown Chicago, both long gone (Rose with its three levels became a Tower flagship in 1990s, but then gone for good by 2007). But for 2011 it was pretty big for a record store among those that still remain these days, and I would say it compared favorably with top record stores in university towns like Madison or Ann Arbor in the 1970s. In fact, I would say it is similar in size to Exclusive Company in Greenfield WI (suburban Milwaukee), one of favorites today. I know it wasn't Sam because I have read that already closed after 2007. Any ideas about the name, location, and whether it is still open (or if not, when closed)?
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
  23. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    @weaselriot There aren't any record stores along Yonge St any longer so it's long gone now.

    In Nov 2011 I was only back in the city for 8 months so can't really place the store.

    I thought it might be Play De Record which has now moved to Spadina but I don't think they carried cds.

    It could be one of the two Sunrise records that existed then along Yonge St. Neither were that close to College though. Did the store you went have toys and dvds too?

    It could be a store called Monster Records but I'm pretty sure they closed before Nov 11 and they were north of Wellesley and not that close to College.
     
    weaselriot likes this.
  24. weaselriot

    weaselriot Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL

    Thanks for trying to help. But in searching images for the ones you mentioned (and disregarding obvious mall shops or modern suburban locations), none of them seemed to remotely resemble my description. Mainly they all had very narrow storefronts, with bins extending front to back from the street, into a deep but narrow space. The shop I was in was much wider and not so deep. It was wide enough that the vinyl LP bins actually ran across, left to right, as viewed from the door on entry, with checkout along the right side wall. It wasn't as wide as the photo I've seen of Sam's, however.
     
  25. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Trying to think of what record stores might have been around there that match that description. I have a vague recollection of a couple but one was off the main drag and on a side street but had a narrow front. Can't remember the name though.

    Yeah I'm stumped. Might be worth starting another thread where more locals, here on SHTV, might see it.
     

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