You know you’re in a great record store when …

Discussion in 'Music, Movie and Hardware Store Guide' started by steelydanguy, Aug 11, 2016.

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  1. steelydanguy

    steelydanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Digital age be damned, I’m a big fan of visiting brick-and-mortar record stores. I’ve been to quite to a few across the United States. My favorites include the three Amoebas in Northern and Southern California; Twist & Shout in Denver; the Princeton Record Exchange in Princeton, N.J.; Waterloo in Austin, Texas; the Sound Garden in Baltimore; Music Millennium in Portland, Ore.; and the Electric Fetus in Minneapolis.

    I’ve noticed certain characteristics that tend to pop up at these great stores. Not every super store has every attribute that I list below, but most of them feature several of these qualities.

    So, you know you’re in a great record store when …

    1.) They carry vinyl and CDs. There are exceptions to this rule (wonderful all-vinyl stores like Jerry’s in Pittsburgh or the Bananas warehouse in St. Petersburg, Fla., for example), but for the most part the best record shops carry items in both formats – and usually of both the used and new (still-sealed) variety.

    2.) They have the latest music magazines and fanzines like Mojo, Record Collector, Q, Uncut, Billboard, Rolling Stone, Goldmine, Ugly Things, Flashback, etc. Makes sense that record collectors might also be interested in literature pertaining to music and collecting music, right? The best stores understand this.

    3.) They have a variety of genres of music available. Sure, specialty stores like the Jazz Record Mart in Chicago or the Ernest Tubb Record Shop in Nashville are great, but the stores that really impress me are the ones with a deep stock of not just pop, rock and R&B but also blues, jazz, country, rap, electronica, pop standards, folk, world, soundtracks, classical, etc. I think the Amoebas have to be the champion in this regard; those stores are just so big and have such a wonderful depth and breadth of product, especially on CD.

    4.) They carry rarities, including out-of-print titles. Again, Amoeba scores high in this area. When I visited the Bay Area last April, I was fortunate enough to visit both Amoeba branches in the area (San Francisco and Berkeley). Both just had so many items that I don’t typically see in a brick-and-mortar store these days – long-ago out-of-print Rhino best-ofs; choice box sets; wonderful various-artist sets from Time-Life, Rhino and other top-notch labels; the list goes on. The Princeton Record Exchange was wonderful in this regard, too, when I visited last year. They had so many great out-of-print CDs, including box sets. Twist & Shout in Denver was awesome about this, too; they had cool, off-the-beaten path items -- like the Beach Boys’ “Unsurpassed Masters” on CD and Springsteen rarities on CD and vinyl – when I visited about five years ago.

    5.) They carry so much great product and have such a strong reputation that collectors from around the region, country and even world visit them.

    6.) Because they get collectors coming in, they provide baskets so these collectors can more easily carry around their ridiculous amount of CDs and vinyl records. I’ve seen and/or partaken in this phenomenon at the Amoebas, the Princeton Record Exchange, the Electric Fetus, the Sound Garden and other top stores.

    7.) They carry music-related books. I’ve made some of my best music book purchases at record stores, including at Amoeba and the Sound Garden. My favorite music store in the Washington, D.C. area, where I live, is the CD Cellar, and they recently purchased items in an estate that included an incredible selection of pop/rock, R&B, jazz and country books. They’ve put these items out for sale (like the original Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock, David Ritz’s bios of Ray Charles and Jerry Wexler, an original Who bio by Dave Marsh, and many more great titles), and I’ve been snapping up as many as I can.

    8.) They have knowledgeable and helpful people working at the stores.

    9.) They offer special discounts. The Electric Fetus in Minneapolis, for example, gives you a 10 percent discount when you buy three items or more.

    10.) The stock of used CDs and vinyl turns over at a good rate. At really good stores, you can go in once a week (or even more often) and check out the “new arrivals” and see plenty of new items.

    11.) They offer cool music-related posters and knickknacks.

    12.) They also offer music-related DVDs and Blu-rays, and in some cases huge selections of movies and TV shows on those formats (the Sound Garden and Amoebas, I'm looking at you).

    I could go on and on with this subject. If anyone has anything to add, that would be awesome! Long live brick-and-mortar stores.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
    jlf, audiomixer, ParloFax and 4 others like this.
  2. Phasecorrect

    Phasecorrect Forum Resident

    They serve beer and carry cigarettes
    AcidPunk15, Coricama, Mylene and 12 others like this.
  3. Phasecorrect

    Phasecorrect Forum Resident

    Been to Electric Fetus! Great store with interesting smoking paraphernalia
    smokeverbs likes this.
  4. steelydanguy

    steelydanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    LOL, great comment. Waterloo in Austin, Texas, is a great store, and they did serve free beer once when I was in there. It was awesome! I believe that's a tradition they have at that store. I hope they are still doing it.

    Lightworker and Arkay_East like this.
  5. Phasecorrect

    Phasecorrect Forum Resident

    Hymies + Roadrunner in Minneapolis also a store that has $1-2 Lp bins
  6. steelydanguy

    steelydanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yeah, I'm originally from the Twin Cities, so I know that scene well. I actually like Treehouse Records in Minneapolis better than the two you mentioned as far as vinyl goes, but Hymies and Roadrunner are interesting places, too.

  7. Phasecorrect

    Phasecorrect Forum Resident

    Treehouse is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
  8. steelydanguy

    steelydanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    They have more interesting and unusual records, hence the higher prices.

  9. Mr.Sean

    Mr.Sean Senior Member

    It is always a great record store when I find titles I've been looking for and for good prices.
    mahanusafa02 likes this.
  10. J Vanarsdale

    J Vanarsdale Forum Resident

    I agree on most of these, especially the discounts or sales. Buy $100 get a $10 credit, Anniversary sales, etc. Vinyl is expensive now and to get people to keep wanting to collect give them good deals.

    Amoeba has some nice rarities, but I hate it when I go into a record store and the $50 or $75 record I might want is stuck 20 feet up on a wall where you can barely see what the cover looks like.

    A great store has good used stock hitting the bins daily.
    steelydanguy likes this.
  11. LeeDempsey

    LeeDempsey Forum Resident

    North Carolina
    I was in the Amoeba in Berkeley a few years ago, and the young lady at the checkout noticed a Millenium album in my basket and proceeded to amaze me, a serious Gary Usher collector, with her knowledge of Usher, Curt Boettcher, Sagittarius, The Millenium, etc. If I hadn't already been married, and if she hadn't been 20 years younger than me, I would have thought I'd met my soul mate...
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
  12. BroJB

    BroJB Hey man, is that FREEDOM ROCK?

    You're in a good record store when they stock The Sonics. A perfect band to test a stores coolness quotient
    Trace, Beattles and Phasecorrect like this.
  13. Phasecorrect

    Phasecorrect Forum Resident

    They have anything by Slade, Sweet, T Rex, Status Quo, etc
    Man at C&A, Andy Smith and Linus like this.
  14. hardknox

    hardknox Forum Resident

    Which CD Cellar location?
  15. fluffskul

    fluffskul Would rather be at a concert

    albany, ny
    When the artists are arranged in alphabetical order, and sought after masterings/ pressings are clearly marked on the outside label (though you know you're still gonna check and see if they missed one!).

    There's a discount rack/shelf/bin of $1 LPs/CDs that you actually want to own.
    Vinyl Addict likes this.
  16. hi_watt

    hi_watt The Road Warrior

    San Diego, CA
    When the owner wants to get to know you, and when they don't stock junk. Oh, and if the dollar bin has decent stuff in it, and it's in alphabetical order.
    fluffskul likes this.
  17. Maestro63

    Maestro63 Forum Resident

    If they are playing English beat on the in store music
    Prophetzong likes this.
  18. Phasecorrect

    Phasecorrect Forum Resident

    They have a Stoner Metal titled section
    GuidedByJonO))) likes this.
  19. NumberEight

    NumberEight Came too late and stayed too long

    You're reminding me of what UK record stores were like in 1973!
    Phasecorrect likes this.
  20. fluffskul

    fluffskul Would rather be at a concert

    albany, ny
    It really is the little stuff that is the big stuff.
    hi_watt, ARK and Phasecorrect like this.
  21. Phasecorrect

    Phasecorrect Forum Resident

    U run into your w**d dealer
  22. thegoldenyear

    thegoldenyear Forum Resident

    You know you're in a great record store when...

    ...more often than not, upon wandering in on your usual weekly visit, the clerk switches the in-store music to something he figures you might dig.

    My favourite hometown shop's done this for me a dozen times in the past year if they've done it once, and their success rate's over 50%. Old stuff, as well as new stuff in a vein they know I like.

    And it isn't just me: I came in on a different day few months back to witness the exact same curatorial care extended to another guy - I know this because I asked after the record they'd been playing and had to special order mine because the other fella'd snapped it up.

    We simply won't have this kind of alchemy once the mom 'n' pops are gone. Breaks my little heart.

    My local: Soundscapes (Toronto).
  23. lightbulb

    lightbulb Not the Brightest of the Bunch

    Smogville CA USA realize that you won't have enough time to look through all the bins that you want to, and you try to think of rational excuses to postpone the appointment that you have to go to.

    "Hi, I'm actually not that hungry right now; can we meet and have dinner after 10 tonight?"
    NumberEight likes this.
  24. Dr Faustus

    Dr Faustus A younger man now getting old

    If you're a good customer at the record store I go to, they give you beer. No cigarettes though.
    Long Live Analog likes this.
  25. peacekeeper

    peacekeeper Forum Resident

    Grimey's and Grimey's Too in Nashville.
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