Portland Rocks: 5 Great Local Record Stores

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The P and I travelled more than 9,000 miles in the last week - from Oakland to Rhode Island to Atlanta to Portland, OR and back to Oakland. We had multiple flights delayed and cancelled, slept in airports and on planes, and finally made it home around 3am last night. During our brief stay in Portland, I set aside some time to visit a few of my favorite local establishments and buy myself a few well-deserved holiday gifts.

Here’s where I went and what I found:

2nd Avenue - outside

2nd Avenue Records

400 SW 2nd Avenue * Portland, OR 97204 * (503) 222-3783

The skinny: Quite simply the best record store in Portland. This place is a dangerous establishment for any music fan on a budget. My friend Tim refuses to set foot in here because he knows his wallet will take a serious hit every time he does. Incredible selection of new and used vinyl, along with ample new and used discs, and an impressive selection of music-related t-shirts. An absolute must-see for any music fan visiting this city.

2nd Ave - inside

Of interest: The new vinyl. This store regularly stocks albums on vinyl that I didn’t even know had been released in that format.

Bonus points: Store employees always cut the credit card number off every store receipt and destroy it on the spot. Very thorough.

Key purchases: Jay-Z * American Gangster (LP), DFA * The DFA Remixes, Chapter One (LP), Gang Of Four * Entertainment! (reissue LP)

*****

Crossroads - outside

Crossroads Music

3130 SE Hawthorne, Portland OR 97214 * (503) 232-1767

The skinny: This giganto store combines the inventory of 35 different dealers, who all work on a consignment basis. This gives Crossroads wide and deep cross sections of different genres in a way that few stores anywhere can match. Mostly used vinyl, but if you poke around you can find every format – LP, 4 track, 8 track, cassette, cd, and beyond. The staff is very helpful and friendly, a must in a store this large and diverse. You could spend 8 hours here and barely scratch the surface of what’s in stock. Another essential destination for any music fan who finds themselves in the Rose City.

Crossroads - inside

Of interest: The vintage electronic equipment throughtout the store that included a veritable museum of turntables, 8 track players and more – all for sale at reasonable prices.

Bonus points: For the selection of posters that covers every inch of the ceiling in the front room, and the impressive selection of vintage cardboard promo displays behind the front counter.

Crossroads - ceiling
[yes, this is the ceiling...]

Key purchases: Robert Goulet * Greatest Hits (4 track tape), The Small Faces * Rarities (LP), Westbury “Stereo Amplifier / Eight Track Stereo Tape Player” * mint condition (see below)

Westbury - 8 Track Tape Player

*****

Everyday - outside

Everyday Music

1313 West Burnside, Portland OR * (503) 274-0961 [Flagship Store]

The skinny: Independently-owned local chain that features new and used CDs and vinyl, and a wide selection of genres. The environment inside is rather sterile, and reminiscent of a large-box chain, but don’t be fooled – there’s great stuff and good bargains to be found here. Also, their selection of new and used LPs is much more impressive than I had remembered.

Everyday - inside

Of interest: Be sure to check out the cool record promo posters – from all eras – that are up all around the store.

Everyday - Promo Poster

Bonus points: For the employee who nearly did a jig when I asked him to help me find the new Battles album. “That’s my album of the year!” he said, pointing to himself with both hands. He didn’t find the album for me, but his enthusiasm was totally appreciated.

Key purchases: Black Lips * Good Bad Not Evil (used CD), J.J. Cale * Rewind: Unreleased Recordings (CD), Bright Eyes * Cassadaga (CD)

*****

Jackpot - outside

Jackpot Records

203 SW 9th Ave. Portland OR 97205 * (503) 222-0990 * www.JackpotRecords.com

Jackpot - inside

The skinny: Jackpot’s inventory is two-thirds new and used cds and one-third new and used vinyl. Used discs are priced from $5.99 to $9.99, and new discs generally range from $13.99 to $17.99. Their ingenious yet simple filing system uses two different colored sleeves, allowing shoppers to quickly discern used from new discs.

Of interest: Great signage around the store. This shop is relatively new, but looking at their logos and signs, you’d think they’ve been around forever.

Jackpot - signage

Jackpot - sandwich board

Bonus points: The store has reissued the Wipers’ classic LP Youth Of America on their Jackpot Records label. Awesome!

Key purchases: Wipers * Youth Of America (reissue LP), Dan Deacon * Spiderman Of The Rings (CD), Justice * (CD), one size XL Jackpot Records t-shirt

*****

Powell’s - outside

Powell’s Books

1005 Burnside, Portland OR 97209 * (503) 228-4651 * www.powells.com

The skinny: Yeah, it’s a bookstore, but it’s HUGE! It stands to reason that any bookstore large enough to have a ‘Lesbian Mysteries’ section (trust me) probably has a great section dedicated to books on music, and Powell’s doesn’t disappoint. Their ‘music’ section is larger than many small-ish bookstores.

Of interest: The 33&1/3 series of books has its own display, currently featuring a ‘buy two get one free’ deal.

Bonus points: The local music ‘zines in the magazine section are worth a browse.

Key purchases: Domenic Priore * Smile: The Story Of Brian Wilson’s Lost Masterpiece, Patrick Humphries * Nick Drake: The Biography, Jeff Chang (editor) * Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop

Lesbian Mysteries
[told you so...]

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21 Responses to “Portland Rocks: 5 Great Local Record Stores”

  1. Arlo Chingaderas Says:

    Dude, I’d travel 9,000 miles for a Goulet Greatest Hits on 4-track!!

    I once worked in a record store and have shared those same moments of uncontrolable artist recognition the young lad experienced at Everyday Music…

    No jig-dancin’ but yeah, I’m a total dork… I laughed when I read that…

    Welcome back to the Bay!!

  2. Charles Martin Says:

    Add to your list:
    Millenium Music

    Great article!

  3. Benjamin Maljevec Says:

    Nice list — very helpful during my trip. Thanks much!

  4. Zanny Says:

    I think Everyday Music is my favorite PDX music store. I’ve been able to find nearly every CD I’ve ever looked for there, including the entire library of my favorite band, which I had not been able to find anywhere else (Bettie Serveert–this includes their Velvet Underground cover CD, Venus In Furs.) AND the lead singer’s side project, Chitlin’ Fooks (I email her on her MySpace sometimes, and I told her I found both Fooks CDs and she said she was surprised I found them. I wouldn’t be surprised myself if I owned the only copies in Portland), a Wir sind Helden CD (YAY), and Sukilove (another yay), among several others. Now, if they’d just carry some Chameleons…

  5. dkpresents Says:

    Thanks Zan!

  6. cordell Says:

    so i’m googling “portland’s best record shops” and then voila´… it’s like having you up here in stumptown with me. i’m here for fun-biz combo whirlwind trip, and i’m taking a cab over to 2nd ave as soon as i can get 90 mins to do so. thanks, mi hermano.

    • dkpresents Says:

      Enjoy 2nd Avenue Cordell – great shop! Have fun in Portland.

      Be sure to visit a McMenamin’s brewpub while you’re there – Blue Moon on 21st and Barley Mill Pub on Hawthorne are my faves…

  7. cordell Says:

    their vinyl collection is massive. intimidatingly unorganized, but massive nonetheless. i wound up having inordinate success in their 99¢ bins — scoring some julie london, joe maphis and soundtracks to ‘looking for mr goodbar’ and scorsese’s ‘king of comedy’ to name a few. also got blasters twofer on CD, and i know you and the P endorse that acquisition heartily. peaceout, and thanks for the knowledge, rose gardening neighbor to the south on I-5.

  8. cordell Says:

    i thought jackpot was lame. it was nifty looking and all, but it really felt like a place to go when you have 10 minutes to kill, nothing more/less.

    2nd avenue is definitely a haven for vinyl nation. i didn’t like the way all the CDs are under glass (requiring assistance to even look at), but other than that, totally solid…no amoeba (or rasputin, for that matter). chat with ye next week. lots going on.

  9. Dobrisa Dobrenic Says:

    Hi dkpresents,

    I came from Croatia, Europe, to attend some conference in Portland. It was a real pleasure to follow your knowledgeable path (excluding Crossroads Music). 2nd is heavenly treasure, as is Everyday Music, just a little bit more expensive and with less new vinyls. I didn’t like Jackpot … And of course, Powell’s is big bang!

    Thanks again!

  10. Jesse Says:

    Nice article. The best shops in Portland in my opinion:

    • Mississippi Records (Vinyl only shop, with a heavy focus on international, folk, blues, as well as a nice selection of rock and psych. Best place for used audio hi-fi gear. Also home of the Mississippi records re-issue label. )

    • Exiled Records (Any psych or noise record worth anything you’ll find it here the time of release. And a very nice collection of used rares.)

    • Rad Summer (Vintage clothing/Record shop. Best all-used selection I’ve seen in town, with almost every record being a quality selection.)

    • Timbuktunes (sadly CDs only, but you have to respect this guys dedication to an all international folk shop. 1,000s of discs organized by country from folk to modern sounds…)

  11. Derek Says:

    I am headed to Portland in a few weeks and am wanting to do some music hunting. I am curious if you or anyone knows the best places to head to, to look for local Potland/Seattle hip hop albums/CDs. Mostly Oldominion Crew stuff. Pretty obscure indie rap stuff, but maybe more prevalent in their home town. Any suggestions of where to look?

  12. S. Mack Says:

    I know this is past the date you listed as being in Portland, but do check this place out next time you are in town.

    • dkpresents Says:

      My brother lives in Portland, so I get up there pretty regularly. I will definitely check that place, and others recommended here, next time I’m in town. Thanks to everyone who passed along reccos…

  13. rico Says:

    Hey Dk…greetings from tiny little island… Singapore!!!! My name in RICO & i was reading your post & found it very informative.I will be visiting my bro who lives in seattle on 23 june till 12 july 2011 & will certainly make my way down to portland..What i would like to know pls….i collect 12 inch singles of all genres, stuff that appeals to me that is, did u see much of it in these stores…or one particular store i can zero in to save time…much appreciated

    Rico

  14. Hdfc Credit Card Login Says:

    G’Day! Dkpresents,
    Thanks for the above Ok. I can’t STAND “indie” music, basically modern alternative at all, its so generic and “indie kids” also hate me because I listen to all 60s garage and surf rock and well, I guess theyre all insecure too well anyways haha.

    I’m moving to Portland for college and I’m worried the music scene will be all “indie”, and they’ll all hate me.

    And music scene I mean Local bands.

    Any ideas?
    Good Job!

  15. Go find a local record store tomorrow and shop for annual Record Store Day! - Parenting after 35 Forums Says:

    [...] [...]

  16. RCTID Says:

    MILLENNIUM!!!

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