The 10 Great Record Stores in America

Vinyl Records are seen for sale at the Sound Garden record shop in Fells Point, Baltimore, on April 12, 2019. - Record Store Day is an annual international event inaugurated on September 22, 2007 at the Sound Garden Shop in Baltimore and held on one Saturday every April and every "Black Friday" in November to "celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store". A number of records are pressed specifically for Record Store Day, with a list of releases for each country, and are only distributed to shops participating in the event. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

The world may be getting more and more digital (NFTs — more like no fucking thanks), but record stores are beloved Luddite-havens where music culture thrives. Mainstream stores pivoted out of the brick and mortar locales over the years, or closed altogether like Sam Goody, but not independent shops. Their dedicated owners understood their importance to music history and music scenes, serving as a spot to find old gems you’ve only heard about, discover something new, and even read the latest lovingly crafted zine.

Although they may seem like a relic of the 20th century, record stores are fountains of knowledge, staffed by die-hard music lovers dedicated to the tunes, the artists, and the vibes — from yesterday, today and tomorrow.

In honor of the returning Record Store Day (June 12 and July 17), we’re taking a look at some of the greatest vinyl shops across the country to dive into. They’re places you can get lost for hours, and come out of finding new sides of yourself. We prefer the B side…

 

Reckless Records, Chicago

 

The 10 Great Record Stores in America

 

We’ll call this a three-fer. Instead of just one location for your vinyl-hunting needs, Reckless Records has three storefronts in Chicago, including its biggest at the former Dollar Buster spot in Wicker Park. Still hosting intimate artist shows, signings from bands like the Windy City’s own Rise Against, and signed prints/albums (h/t local legend Liz Phair), Reckless is anything but. It’s a safe bet that Reckless, now in their 32nd year, will be worth your time, whether you’re looking for crates and crates and crates of records, or want to pick a signed Taylor Swift disc for your little sister. Or yourself. (It’ll be our little secret.)

 

Music Millennium, Portland, Oregon

 

The 10 Great Record Stores in America

 

Since 1969, this wood and brick spot has catered to those always trying to “Keep Portland Weird.” Shop by chandelier-light in this homey locale, Music Millennium is billed as the oldest, still existing record shop in the Pacific Northwest. This is a comforting and colorful place where you can not only shop for musical gems and diamonds in the rough but pick up some patterned socks and enamel badges. Sidewalk sales are still their jam, and they are another retailer boasting performances from indie music legends like Grant-Lee Phillips. musicmillennium.com

 

The Electric Fetus, Minneapolis

 

The 10 Great Record Stores in America

 

Yep, they don’t know where the name came from either — although The Jimi Hendrix Experience released their third and final album, Electric Ladyland, the same year this record store was born: 1968. Strange name, cool place. So cool, it was apparently the last record store Prince visited before his passing. That, however, wasn’t cool. Grab some super sweet used vintage vinyl, pick up a cat pizza slicer for your mom’s birthday, stop by for a signing with someone like Dave Pirner, and be sure to get a discount punch card when they’re giving them out (‘cause everyone loves a coupon). electricfetus.com

 

Amoeba Music, Hollywood

 

The 10 Great Record Stores in America

 

Need to spend a day getting lost in L.A.? And who doesn’t? Just step inside the doors of Amoeba Music’s new location at 6200 Hollywood Boulevard, just a stroll away from Funko’s own spot on the famed street. You can gawk at the Shepard Fairey mural before losing yourself among a warehouse-sized record store bound to take up hours and hours and hours. Need a super-cool artist-drawn Belle & Sebastian concert poster to liven up your walls? Trying to find a used cassette copy of Nevermind (yeah, they’ve been carrying tapes since it was uncool)? Just looking for a great recommendation? Amoeba’s staff have a special section for that. They even have their own vinyl subscription club. It’s a very simple program: you subscribe, they send you something.  amoeba.com 

 

 

Long in the Tooth, Philadelphia

 

Located just a few streets from 17th century Rittenhouse Square, Long In the Tooth is a must-stop shop for record aficionados. They may not have an Amoeba-sized building, but what they do have is serious loyalty to their unassuming location. They are known for rarities, like The Offs First Record with a Jean-Michel Basquiat cover. Open since 2006, they’re one of the “newer” shops on this list. Oh, and they sell another archaic form of entertainment: books. Long-in-the-tooth.business.site

 

Vinyl Tap, Nashville

 

Beer and music — a perfect combination curated by Nashville’s Vinyl Tap. Sure, you’ll need ID, but break it out to enjoy regional craft beer (like Dunkelweizen, brewed in Music CIty) and St. Vincent’s Daddy’s Home on wax. Leisurely flip through their vinyl offerings, listen to a guest DJ, or lookout for a legend to swing by like George Thorogood. It’s all on tap. Free refills, however, are not included.  vinyltapnashville.com

 

Dearborn Music, Detroit

 

The 10 Great Record Stores in America

 

This one’s another oldie, but goodie, having been in business since 1956. Open seven days a week, Dearborn is a packed shop, boasting over 50,000 titles in stock. Beyond the killer finds, they, too, have excellent merch, like game night fodder, branded totes, or knitted headgear because Michigan can get really, really cold. dearbornmusic.net

 

Grand Avenue Records, Phoenix

 

White labels, white labels, white labels! Grand Ave. stocks ‘em, but you can also pick up some ‘90s Ukrainian synth-pop, if you’re in the market for it. And who isn’t, these days? Among their wide-ranging selection (including loads of 12-inch and seven-inch vinyl), Grand Ave. has a variety of kitschy gifts perfect to treat yourself with. Oh, and did we mention they stock zines? P.S. They also have plans to host classes in DJing and vinyl care. Sign us up.Grandaverecords.com

 

Waterloo Records, Austin, Texas

 

The 10 Great Record Stores in America


An Austin staple since 1982, Waterloo Records, with its 6,400 square feet of store space, is the place to go when you’re itching for some new — or old — tunes. This indie record store offers instores (Deer Tick, anyone?), hard-to-find rarities (like Thom Yorke’s Anima on orange vinyl), and even Butthole Surfers bobbleheads (no, seriously). There’s also an entire instagram (unofficial) devoted to pups spotted in-store. Waterloorecords.com

 

 

Sonic Boom Records, Seattle

 

Born in 1997 of two music-loving friends, Sonic Boom Records is tailor-made for indie lovers. They became a hot spot for music fans in the Pacific Northwest in the late ‘90s, thanks to hosting events like a 1998 Death Cab for Cutie debut album in-store. Today, the shop is under new ownership — Mike Pitts, a former customer — and you can stop in for emo anthologies, used laserdiscs (which are a thing again unless you’ve been living under a rock), or an Annette Peacock reissue. sonicboomrecords.com

IMPACT

you may like

Scroll to Top