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 – 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 – 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 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 – 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
HAPPY TRAILS – Eugene, OR
DJANGO’S – Portland, OR
SATURN RECORDS – Oakland, CA
VILLAGE MUSIC – Mill Valley, CA
“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’
The Edmonton Journal: ‘Record Stores Get Their Special Day’