March 19, 2018 | Music

Vinyl has enjoyed quite the resurgence over the past few years, which means it’s easier than ever to find records. While that’s not a bad thing, there’s still nothing quite like stepping into an old-school record shop. Fortunately, the boom in vinyl means that there are still plenty of classic record shops operating all across America. Here are a few choice stops to add to your road trip itinerary:

1. A-1 Record Shop, New York, NY

A staple of a classic record shop is staff members who know their ish about music. A-1 Record Shop in the East Village provides just that, with music historians who will guide shoppers toward the best records they never even knew they needed. Opened in 1996 by owner Isaac Kosman, the store offers stock spanning from old-school hip-hop and disco to electronic music. You can also find a full catalog of lo-fi techno released through their in-house label L.I.E.S. Plus, fresh crates of vintage records arrive daily — and depart just as quickly — so multiple visits each month might be necessary to complete your home library.

2. Waterloo Records, Austin, TX

Austin is a hotbed for musical activity and culture, so it should come as no surprise that an ATX staple found its way onto this list. Located across from BookPeople, the largest independent bookstore in Texas, Waterloo keeps the local spirit alive with a large selection of new releases from Austin bands and in-store performances. Waterloo also sells CDs and turntables in addition to a large and diverse vinyl catalog

3. Jerry’s Records, Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh is a city filled with old-school charm, so of course a PGH record shop ranks as a must-stop when in town. A Yinzer favorite located in the historic Squirrel Hill neighborhood, Jerry’s Records has rooms dedicated to every genre of music imaginable. In business for nearly 40 years, it’s home to half a million albums, 12-inch singles, 45s and EPs, and it has some of the fairest prices you’ll ever find at a record store. Longtime owner Jerry Weber recently retired from the business, but he passed the store along to a friend and co-worker, so it’s still open and the legacy can live on.

4. Grimey’s New & Preloved Music, Nashville, TN

It may seem difficult to choose a record shop from “Music City,” but Grimey’s New & Preloved Music is a no-brainer. Maybe you’ve heard it on Metallica’s Live at Grimey’s 2010 live album or seen it featured on the hit CMT series "Nashville," but the hype is very much warranted. Along with high-profile performances and signings, the shop stocks over 300,000 albums across all genres for reasonable prices. Grimey’s is an audiophile’s paradise — and it’s about to get even better, as they’re currently in the process of replacing many of their CD racks with vinyl. 

5. The Sound Garden, Baltimore, MD

The Sound Garden might not be as heavily focused on vinyl, as it also features a large selection of new and used CDs, video games, DVDs and Blu-Rays. But it’s still one of the best record shops in Baltimore — and has been for its over two decades in business. Located in the heart of Fells Point, The Sound Garden is open late seven days a week — until midnight on weekends — and features 10,000 square feet of the city’s biggest stock of physical music. Add to that a friendly staff and a wide selection of genres and you’ve got not only a great shop to pick up some new tunes, but a fun hangout spot as well.

6. Hello Records, Detroit, MI

Located in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood, the tiny-yet-welcoming Hello Records provides a wide variety of Motown, soul, jazz, blues and reggae albums. Their ever-changing selection includes tons of used 45s as well as vinyl and shellac recordings of hard-to-find relics from Detroit’s rich musical heritage — all in good condition. This portal through time is cash only, so make sure you hit an ATM on your way there.

7. Sweat Records, Miami, FL

Sweat Records brings a little new-school vibe to an old-school record shop, serving as a combo independent music store, coffee shop and event space located in the Little Haiti section of Miami. Established by best friends and DJs Lauren (Lolo) Reskin and Sara Yousuf, Sweat has played a vital role in promoting growth and activity in Miami’s cultural landscape. A music-nerd community center that offers a wide variety of new and used LPs, turntables, accessories, CDs, magazines and books, Sweat is a one-stop shop for taking in the local music and culture of Miami.

8. The Electric Fetus, Minneapolis, MN

Opened in 1968 at the height of the social revolution, the original Electric Fetus was as much of a cultural experiment as it was a record store. Few ever forget the name, which was once singled out by National Lampoon magazine as having the worst name for a business. But it's been a gathering place for music freaks and counterculturists since it opened nearly 50 years ago. The Fetus not only offers a unique shopping experience thanks to its wild history and out-of-the-ordinary gifts and music, but it also features a comprehensive selection of jazz, hip-hop, punk rock, blues and world music.

9. Vintage Vinyl, St. Louis, MO

This St. Louis shop, opened in 1979, is a vinyl addict’s dream that's often regarded as one of the best-curated shops in the Midwest. Why? The shop’s owners — Tom Ray and Lew Prince — set out to start a record store built from the customers’ points of view. Shoppers can find nearly every type of genre in any form, from punk CDs to hip-hop cassettes. But what Vintage Vinyl is best known for is its live performances, which not only showcase both up-and-coming and established musicians, but also provides free beer for attendees.

10. Vintage Vinyl, Fords, NJ

Do not adjust your eyes — you read that name right. Another Vintage Vinyl has made this list, this one being New Jersey’s largest independent music store. Buried in the middle of a strip mall, Vintage Vinyl could be overlooked as just another chain store among the others, but do not be fooled. Opened in 1979, Vintage Vinyl features a 10,000 square-foot space that stocks over 100,000 CDs, 5,500 new vinyl titles and about 8,000 DVDs. A massive space with an old-school feel, the store boasts 10 different categories of rock and is known for its in-store performances, which have often featured big-name rock bands.

11. Dave’s Records, Chicago, IL 

Dave’s Records in Chicago remains true to its roots with over 40,000 vinyl records in stock and absolutely no CDs — a fact that owner Dave proudly boasts. The vinyl-only promise is one that most music lovers can appreciate. One of Chicago’s most beloved music emporiums, Dave’s Records features virtually every genre of music at very reasonable prices.

Now that your map of record shops is set, you’re ready to explore all of the best music and culture this country has to offer.

Jason Lee Menard
Jason Lee Menard

The attraction is only natural.

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