Grooves Vinyl Attractions is an old-fashioned record store where cds need not apply, and LPs, cassettes and 8-tracks are all the rage. This colorful shop sits at 1797 Market St, at the foot of both the Castro and the lower Haight. Even from the outside it’s easy to tell that this is a great store, and all those brightly colored LPs beckon the helpless record-buyer like so many bugs to the zapper. There aren’t many record stores left in the city, but this is the best one that’s not called Amoeba (which is a mythical beast beyond comparison anyway).
Grooves is a medium-sized shop stuffed with the inventory of a much larger store. Vintage poster art and collectible records line the walls (the current display is devoted to political and presidential records). There’s always good cheer in the air here, with excellent music on the sound system and employees involved in smart, mild-mannered discussions about musical minutia.
If there’s one (oh so minor) drawback to this store, it’s that the overflowing stock can be somewhat intimidating. Fortunately, the staff is helpful to a fault, and not above answering even the most elementary questions.
When I was in last week, Kelly (who functions as something of an assistant manager) was helping a hapless customer who was obviously new to “Rock & Roll”. It was pretty awe-inspiring to watch a seasoned record store employee patiently introduce another adult to both AC/DC (for the record, High Voltage, along with a stirring explanation of the importance of Bon Scott) and The Kinks (Greatest Hits) without flinching or descending into sarcasm. Meanwhile, Ray (the owner) was running around like a chicken with his head cut off – filing albums, changing the store music, cracking wise, and generally keeping the atmosphere light.
If The Muppets had run a record store, I’ll bet it would have felt a lot like Grooves.
Here’s what I picked up:
The Rolling Stones * Jumpin’ Jack Flash (45rpm)
Lightnin Hopkins * Lightnin’! (2-LP)
Howlin’ Wolf/Muddy Waters/Bo Diddley * The Super Super Blues Band (Checker LP)
Robert Nighthawk * Bricks In My Pillow (LP)
Pete Seeger * Clearwater Classics (2-LP)
Thad Jones & Mel Lewis * Live At The Village Vanguard (8-track)
New York Rock Ensemble * Freedomburger (8-track)
Chuck Berry * Back Home (8-track)
Count Basie * Afrique (8-track)