It’s been said for the past few years that vinyl is on the rise; records are making a comeback. Younger generations have been returning to consuming music in this format, while others never stopped in the first place. Here is a list of just some of several records stores in the U.S. that are worth visiting. And no, Jack White’s Third Man Records did not make the list.
For more than two decades, Amoeba Music has been forging a path for independent record chains. Its original location resides in Berkley, Calif., and since then a handful of others have come into existence, all of which are located California. Amoeba is also known for “What’s in my bag?” an award-winning series that showcases what artists and tastemakers found while browsing the store.
The sign on Dave’s front door has become as equally well known as the store itself. The sign reads: “NO CD’s!! Never had ‘em!! Never Will!!” Located here in Chicago, Dave’s claim to fame is that it is devoted to vinyl, its collection includes over 40,000 titles of all speeds, formats and styles.
Easy Street Records
It’s common for record stores to offer more than just vinyl or CD’s. Easy Street Records, located in Seattle, goes as far as offering a coffee bar and diner as well. The store opened in 1988 and the cafe became full-service in 2001. On April 25, 2005, Easy Street hosted the 10-year anniversary conference for the Coalition of Independent Music Stores. At the event, Pearl Jam recorded its EP “Live at Easy Street.”
National Lampoon magazine once called this store out for having the worst possible name for a business. But as the store’s official website says, “it’s a name people don’t forget.” Electric Fetus formed in 1968 and has grown to have three various locations all within Minnesota. Due to its location, the store’s site says it has exclusives on bands “poised to be the next Replacements, Husker Du, or Atmosphere.”
Grimey’s New and Preloved Music
Deemed “Nashville’s premier independent record store,” Grimey’s was founded by local musician Mike “Grimey” Grimes in 1999. What once started as a small collection of his own personal records has since grown immensely, so much so that the store recently opened Grimey’s Too. Grimey’s Too houses “everything we couldn’t fit into the original Grimey’s,” according to the store’s official site.
Other Music, located in New York, is a classic case of survival of the fittest. Other Music came into existence as an alternative to Tower Records, the two stores stood at a withstanding faceoff, quite literally, considering they sat across the street from one another. Tower Records tumbled as digital music sales increased and it finally closed in 2006 after 46 years of business, while Other Music has continued to thrive off its collection of underground, rare and experimental music.
This Chicago independent record store chain has been “Serving Chicago since 1989!” It currently has three locations in the city, as well its original location in London that opened in 1984. The London location sits on the famous Berwick Street in Soho, the street that sets the scene for Oasis’ “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory)” album cover.
When it comes to Nashville and music, it’s a difficult task to determine what is “the best.” In terms of record stores though, Shangri-La is surely up there. The store, located in Memphis, was founded in 1989 along with its own record label, Shangri-La Projects, which split off from the store in 2000. The label has since expanded to be a music tour company and publisher as well.
Waterloo opened in 1982 in Austin, Texas. As an interesting change of pace, the store files its entire music collection alphabetically, “without regard to genre,” according to its Twitter bio. The store’s name comes from the city’s original name, which was changed from Waterloo to Austin around 1839 in honor of “The Father of Texas,” Stephen F. Austin.
Wuxrty was founded in Athens, Georgia in 1976. Two years later, it opened its second location in Decatur. According to its site, the store is more than a “user friendly retail outlet,” it’s also a “walk-in museum of the greatest music and bands of the last century” and the modern music of today. The store also is known for its impressive list of past employees, such as Peter Buck of R.E.M and Danger Mouse.
Honorable mention: Princeton Record Exchange