Posts Tagged ‘2nd Avenue Records’

5 Great Independent Record Stores

20 April 2008

The first annual ‘Record Store Day‘ was held yesterday to raise the profile of – and provide a shot in the arm for – struggling independent music sellers. Music stores across North America took the day to celebrate the culture of buying and selling records, and draw attention to their financial plight. More than 1,400 independent music stores have closed in the US since 2003, and that number only figures to grow in the coming years. For those of us that take record stores for granted, it’s hard to imagine that one day they might be a thing of the past.

In the spirit of yesterday’s festivities – and because on this blog every day is record store day – here are five of my favorite independent record stores…

Amoeba Music - photo
AMOEBA MUSIC – San Francisco [pictured] & Berkeley, CA – Both of these stores are so massive and all-encompassing that it seems like they sell every record in existence. The selection is so large that I’ve actually experienced brain-freeze at the Berkeley store – wandered around befuddled and left without buying anything. It’s Disneyland for music fans.

In business since: 1990 [Berkeley store]


House Of Records - photo
HOUSE OF RECORDS – Eugene, OR – This converted 3-bedroom house full of music sits off the east edge of the University of Oregon campus and has one of the least generic/corporate interiors of any music store in existence. It gets bonus points for being the record store where I bought my first LPs in college, and it still gives me that thrilling ‘High Fidelity’ record buzz.

In business since: 1971


2nd Avenue - outside
2nd AVENUE RECORDS – Portland, OR – 2nd Avenue stocks a vast number of CDs and t-shirts, but the real draw is their staggering selection of LPs, which features many hard-to-find new releases, re-issues, and original nuggets. If you like vinyl, this store can be dangerous.

In business since: 1982


Dave’s Records
DAVE’S RECORDS – Chicago, IL – Dave boasts more than 40,000 LPs in stock, which is amazing considering that his store can’t be more than 200 square feet. ‘Most records per square foot’ would be a reasonable motto for Dave’s, but they already have an even better one: “CDs – Never had ’em, never will.”

In business since: 1983 or so


WATERLOO – AUSTIN, TX – Waterloo is less record store and more community activity center. It’s been voted ‘best record store’ in the Austin Chronicle reader’s poll every year since its founding, and always features both up-and-coming and well-known artists at in-store events. With more than 6,400 square feet of retail space, Waterloo has the space to offer a large selection of both LPs and CDs.

In business since: 1982


And five defunct record stores that I wish were still kicking…

RECORD FINDER – San Francisco, CA


DJANGO’S – Portland, OR




“You can’t roll a joint on an iPod – buy vinyl!” – Shelby Lynne


More on the first annual Record Store Day:

New York Times: ‘Record Stores Fight To Be Long Playing’

NPR: ‘High Fidelity Memories on Record Store Day’

The Edmonton Journal: ‘Record Stores Get Their Special Day’

Portland Rocks: 5 Great Local Record Stores

28 December 2007

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 *

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 *

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…]