Amoeba-best-record-stores

Gentlemen, we are in the midst of a vinyl revolution. You’ve heard that phrase over and over again, but it really is true. People all over the world—young and old—are discovering and rediscovering the warmth and tonality of high fidelity vinyl sound and experiential listening one record sleeve and liner note at a time. But where does one procure such archaic wares?

Well, outside of your parents’ basement and Ebay, there are these little places called “record stores,” a place with scuffed wooden floors, a couple turntables strewn about, and packed to the gills with thousands of records. It smells like the attic at your grandma’s house, but the soundtrack playing in the store is really somethin’ else. If you’re lucky, you have one of these incredible retail establishments in your town. But, if you’re not so fortunate, you may have to hunt far and wide for a suitable shop. Luckily, we’ve done a little bit of the work for you. Here are the Top 8 Record Shops in the Country.

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Amoeba Music – San Francisco, California

Amoeba is arguably the best record store in the entire country. Part of a small chain of stores in Berkeley, San Francisco, and LA, the San Francisco location is a vinyl nerd’s wet dream. Twenty-four thousand square feet, packed to the ceiling with over 100,000 CD’s, records, and even audio cassettes. It doesn’t have that small-town vibe we know and love, but if you’re a crate digger looking for the best, this is probably the place you’ll find it. Link


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Recycled Records – San Francisco, California

It’s hard to talk about Amoeba Music without paying respect to Recycled Records, another revered Haight-Ashbury record shop. The shop is quaint, quiet, and the owners are exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable human beings. The space is well-utilized (AKA, it’s a tight spot, but in the best of ways), the prices are more than fair, and the selection is as good as you’re going to get. Plus, these guys wheel and deal on the regular, so if you’re looking for something specific and they don’t have it, they can probably track it down for you. This place is also on a really awesome part of the Haight-Ashbury strip, and is located right next door to an anarchist bookshop. So fight the power twice. Link


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Princeton Record Exchange – Princeton, New Jersey

Princeton Record Exchange or, as the locals call it, P-Rex, is a place unlike any other, and a true gem to the folks of The Garden State. Owner Barry Weisfeld founded the store in 1980, after spending five years hocking records at local flea markets from the comfort of his van. Today, P-Rex packs over 150,000 CDs, DVDs, and records into a tiny 4,300-square-foot space. We won’t lie, the stuff you’ll find here is a little on the spendier side (but what can you expect from a business located in Princeton). At the very least, it’s worth going just to check out a valuable piece of New Jersey’s exceptionally storied music history. Link


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The Sound Garden – Baltimore, Maryland

This historic shop, located in Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood, isn’t just a place to buy records. It’s a cultural exchange place, where people from all walks of life come to hang out and do the thing that music was invented to make people do: Connect with one another. They carry all the best in everything and are purveyors of taste and culture. Their staff is friendly, their store is simple and inviting, and when push comes to shove, they are everything we’re supposed to know and love about this stuff. When you make music an affair of the heart, good energy follows. These guys get it. Link


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Dusty Groove – Chicago, Illinois

Real-deal crate digging is an art form of the highest caliber. Being able to catch a single break beat in a certain song that goes well with another or can be used for a sample to make something new—these aren’t skills that can be picked up by just anyone. And when it comes to perfecting that that skill, Dusty Groove is the college of fine arts. What started as a mail-order-only business in 1997 turned into a full-time brick-and-mortar storefront in 2001, and has since become a pillar to the record collecting community the world over. Link


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Bric-A-Brac Records and Collectibles – Chicago, Illinois

The term “Bric-a-brac” stems from French origin, and essentially means the combination of a lot of lesser ornaments to make one big, beautiful work of art. It’s a perfectly fitting name for this record-store/thrift-shop/flea-market/music-venue. You’ll find everything from the best new and used vinyl in the city, obnoxious buttons and sketchy t-shirts, patches, vintage movie posters, action figures, comic books, and more. But the best thing about this shop, the one thing you won’t find anywhere else, is how in tune they are with the local music scene. If you want to know the hottest local bands and up-and-coming artists in Chicago, go to Bric-A-Brac. Link


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The Thing – Brooklyn, New York

If Hell was a record store, it would be The Thing—and we mean that in the most endearing way possible. At any given time, this New York City institution has more than 100,000 records within its walls. But here’s the thing… None of it is organized. No genres, no alphabetization, no sections, no law, no order. Workers at the store explain that it’s not about going there to find what you’re looking for; it’s about discovering something you didn’t know you needed. And that’s a message we can get down with. Link


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Rock and Soul Records and DJ Equipment – New York, New York

A 40-year veteran in New York City’s wild and reckless music scene, Rock and Soul Records has definitely seen some shit over the decades. But that’s part of the beauty about it: In a city that has changed so much over the last few decades, this shop has stayed the same. In a modern climate that is unfriendly (although increasingly less) to real, physical music, there’s Rock and Soul, tucked deep into the back pocket of NYC’s past. Super friendly customer service (far less pretentious than a lot of the bigger wax spots in the City), and a selection that rivals any other shop on this list, Rock and Soul isn’t just a record shop, it’s an institution. Link

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