Record Shopping

As I travel, I'm always looking for places to shop for vinyl. With limited information available, I thought it would be helpful to others if I shared my experiences. Feel free to make your comments about the stores or to recommend stores in your city. I collect mostly 80's New Wave, Punk and Alternative so that's what I base my recommendations and reviews on.




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30.1.08

How Vinyl Records Are Made






10.1.08

Phoenix

The Phoenix area is filled with great places to find records.

Zia Records - (5 locations in the Valley) The late Brad Singer started this "chain" which has locations across Arizona and in Vegas. An extremely large CD selection in each store is complimented with DVD's, VHS, Video games, etc as well as varying vinyl selections. Often times, the "good" records are snapped up by the employees (who are usually pretty friendly and most often fairly knowledgable) but they all seem to buy vinyl and the stock is ever changing. I usually have the best luck with the Chandler and Tempe locations but make it a habit to stop at all of them. Prices are usually $1.99 but sometimes a dollar or two more.
Stinkweeds - Kimber Lanning has run this true independent store for what seems like forever and it's always top notch. Not a huge selection of vinyl but you don't have to wade through junk either. A great selection of CD's too and there aren't many around who are as nice or who know as much as her about indie artists. I don't get to visit as often since the move to Camelback but always make sure I stop in when I'm in the neighborhood.
Wax and Trax - Located on Central Avenue in downtown and not far from Stinkweeds, an unbelievable selection of used vinyl from all genres. Prices are fair and staff is friendly. Main focus is on records, not an extensive CD selection.
Revolver - The newest entry into the market, this converted home is packed with records. An enormous selection (huge $1 bin as well!) covering all styles of music and a bin set up specifically to recently acquired records is quicjkly making this the place to go for vinyl. Decent prices, great selection and friendly staff. They also have CD's, DVD's, turntables, etc.
Rockzone - Former staffers from the legendary Rockaway Records have moved locations and set up a very nice store. Tons of vinyl from all era's as well as an extensive selection of 12"'s and collectables. Plenty of CD's, friendly staff.
Eastside - In the same Tempe location for years, practically next door to the Zia Tempe location, large selection of vinyl, great staff and excellent prices. Also carry CD's, DVD's, books, etc.
Memory Lane Records - Haven't been here in a number of years but keep meaning to. Last time I was there it was stuffed to the rafters with records but mostly 50's, 60's .
Record Show - Held every other month at the Italian American Club, a wide selection of dealers with most musical tastes covered (although leans toward the 1950's-70's), most of the sellers are very friendly and more than fair as far as pricing is concerned. The number of vendors varies each show but worth checking out!

8.1.08

New York City

12/04/06
Was disappointed in the few stores I went to- Finyl Vinyl, Gimmie Gimmie Records, Kim's. Kim's was ok but the vinyl was a bit pricey so I only grabbed a few things. Walked around the corner, to Norman's Sound and Vision between 7th and 8th Street on 3rd Avenue (I believe-Cooper Square???) anyway I stumble upon a store that has a cardboard sign that says all vinyl $1.00. I walk in, no vinyl in sight, the guy says go down the stairs. I walk downstairs to the basement and there is box after box of records (the owner says 40,000)! After three hours of digging through boxes and a sore back, I had to weed out the truly rare or perfect condition ones as my stack was huge and I had no idea how I was getting them back to Arizona. I ended up with 92 LP's and 12"'s, and he gave them to me for $80 and I lugged them around the corner and shipped them home .



12/18/2007
Just returned from this year's excursion to New York- here's the scoop: Day 1-Start in the morning (mistake- nothing opens before noon it seems!)1st stop is Bleeker Street Records as a Watt White(?) video shoot wraps. They point me in the direction of their other store that focuses on punk/new wave/alternative. From what I see they are very high priced but didn't spend enough time to give a fair assesment. Generation Records - Picked up a handful of records, not too bad on price, condition didn't seem to be much of a concern though here. Staff was friendly. Rebel Rebel Uh, you know those people who pass away and there is 10 foot high stuff piled around the house? Floor to ceiling boxes piled upon each other with a tiny walk space big enough for only one person, next to impossible to navigate your way through anything. Owner was super nice and there were a ton of people in there when he finally opened (at least an hour past the posted time of noon!). No purchases. On to Kim's in St. Marks Place, picked up three or four records. Walked around the corner to last years score Norman's . This year all vinyl was 50% off and was neatly organized. All CD's in the basement were 50% off their already reduced price. Picked up 30 or 40 records and a dozen or so CD's. Highly recommended!Wandered around St. Mark's looking for other stores but to no avail. Day 2-Record Show (monthly?) at the Holiday Inn, got there at 8am and paid the $25 admission fee from 8am to 10am. I was the first person there and as feared, that wasn't necessary. Anything I bought could have been purchased after 10 am when admission dropped to $6. Found 20 or 30 records, but was amazed at how over-priced some of these guys had their records at. I was looking through one guys stuff, mostly 12"'s from early 90's, late 80's by mediocre R & B and pop acts, stuff that is no more than $1 at any record store I have ever been to and readily available. I asked him how much a 12" record was since nothing was priced, debating in my head if I'd go $2 or $3 and the dude says $30. I said "Pardon Me?" He says, everything is between $10 and $300. Huh? Oh well.Picked up a couple cool records from other sellers, who all were pretty nice. Ok, time to go with wife and shop down Canal Street when I see a 3"X3" sticker on a light pole- 20,000 LP's and CD's for sale with an address. I ask someone where this is and find out it is 1 block away. We walk over there and immediately my wife recognizes I will not be leaving anytime soon and takes a cab to Macy's! Apparently it's a non-profit music archive that I do not believe is open to the public yet that is funded in part by many musicians and donations( http://www.arcmusic.org/begin.html ). Semi -Annually they have a sale of duplicate records and cd's that covers two weekends. Anyway, I ended up picking up over 200 pieces of vinyl, most $1 or $2 (I think the most was $4 or $5) for pieces worth many times more. I don't even recall what I got, they packed everything for me right there and were even cool enough to wheel it down the street for me and load it into a cab. Awesome...and I stumbled across it! I went to Mercer Street Books the next day and they had a pretty decent selection of vinyl, many of which were a $1, picked up another 20 or 30 pieces. Definitely not your run of the mill stuff.

Las Vegas

02/26/07
Spent the weekend in Vegas, had the opportunity to go to numerous places record shopping. Zia- This Arizona based store has tons of vinyl, typically nothing more than $1.99. I picked up a ton (130 records or so) of cool titles and they have a small 7" section as well. I found many hard to find titles worth well over $20-40 each. Friendly staff. I even bought a small stack of mid 80's thrash metal stuff- DRI, Suicidal, etc ! Record City- 3 locations, I was able to get to all 3. Two of them are on Sahara, one had a ton of '50-60's collectible records and plenty of rock and alternative stuff, prices were a tad on the high side. I picked up some Replacements, Phil N the Blanks, Human Switchboard, etc. The second location, just a few blocks down the street, had a smaller selection of the collectibles but an entire room full of $1 records. Unbelievable titles, all of your standard 80's fare as well as 12". I picked up well over 100 titles here- Long Ryders, Comateens, Elvis Brothers, New Marines, DFX2, Dial M, Fashion, The Dodgers, Minor Detail, The Vels, etc. I was able to make it over to the Charleston location for a short time on Sunday. Staff was awesome, only had 30 minutes to go through the clearance section here but picked up nearly 90 records. I got some really cool stuff- Josie Cotton, The Mood, Blanket Of Secrecy, Translator, Urban Verbs, etc. Wax Trax- A different kind of record store. 3 floors I believe, parts dimly lit, not real organized but has just about every obscure title you can think of. Nothing is priced, you have to pull it out and the owner looks it up on the internet and gives you a price. Not my kind of shopping so I didn't get anything here. Better suited if you were looking for one title. You'd be better off just looking on the internet though. All in all I picked up over 300 records, many of which were extremely cheap and not your run of the mill stuff.I'm sure I missed some places but my time was limited, all of these had large CD selections as well as memorabilia at Record City.

Tucson

05/15/2007
Drove down to Tucson this afternoon to check out some record stores.Two Zia Records locations - Both absolutely sucked. Based out of Phoenix and my regular source for vinyl, I couldn't have been more disappointed. No selection and thrift shop condition at both places. I only picked up two 7" singles (Pete Shelley and Depeche Mode imports) and a 5 song EP featuring The Mighty Lemon Drops, World Party and The Bodines. PDQ Records (on Dodge and Grant)- quite possibly the largest selection of vinyl of any store I have ever been in, arranged beautifully, easy to browse. Unbelievable selection, it was like everything I looked for they had. Prices varied wildly but almost everything was reasonable. Most records I bought were in the $3-5 range and included:Los Illegals, Robert Seidler - Cig Sisters, Smash Palace, Horizontal Brian, New Marines, Nervus Rex, The Neats, Quincy, It's Immaterial, Bongos - Beat Hotel (Sealed), Red Wedding - Nails, Randyandy and several local LP's from 80's acts that I have been searching high and low for!!! I wish I had more time to spend there. If you are in Tucson, make sure you leave enough time to go to PDQ Records, you won't be disappointed!!


11/05/2007
Went to Tucson for the weekend and went to PDQ again Saturday and Sunday. If there is a better store anywhere I don't know where it is. Tons and Tons of vinyl, and the new owners have all LP's at 50% off!!! I picked up a ton of off the wall stuff, again, stuff I don't normally see in other stores. It's a must if you ever go to Tucson (and this would be the only good reason to go there!).

Houston

3/19/2007
Went to Houston Monday and Tuesday of last week. The only two stores that people could refer me to for vinyl was: Vinal Edge Records - almost all vinyl, crate upon crate of 12"'s that blocked nearly every aisle, not a whole bunch of stuff that I bought, nothing memorable.
Sound Waves - small store, not a huge amount of used vinyl, only notable purchase was a sealed copy of The Kick. Half Price Books- I wandered into one when looking for Vinal Edge, holy cow, I bought a ton of stuff here and at their other location the next day. Highlights included a Red Rockers Condition Red LP for under $5, D.O.A., Wednesday Week, etc, shipped a huge box of records home (Media Mail) - can't wait for them to arrive to remember what I got! We have these stores in Arizona but nowhere near the selection of titles that they had here. Overall, disappointed in the actual record stores, the Half Price Books store was a fluke! I'm sure I missed some good ones.

San Diego

3/19/2007
Got here late Friday night, went to the Swap Meet in the early morning Saturday, don't know if it was luck or if it is always like this: Many sellers, enormous selection, low prices (mostly $1 or $2) and I walked away with boxes of New Wave stuff. What was truly amazing, probably 70% of the stuff I bought was in plastic sleeves already! I bet that of the hundreds of records I looked at, I might have put 2 or 3 back due to condition, most of the stuff was like it had never been played! I did find two of my white whales(N-E-1 (found two copies!) and The New Presidents - $3 total!!). One seller had everything for $2 and everything was bagged and in great shape, mostly 70's rock but I found 40 records there including Kraftwerk, Bill Nelson etc. He told me he had a ton of records at his thrift store on Garnet from the same collection, so later that day I went there and picked up another 50+ records. Off The Record on University was Saturday nights destination, found several items I was looking for but nothing spectacular. Decent selection and reasonably priced. Sunday morning it was back to the swap meet and although not quite as good as Saturday there were some notable finds. One Jackass I asked how much his records were and he said $1 and up. I looked through his odd collection and pulled out 5 records I wanted, nothing too spectacular except one. He said- these will be about $10 each! three of them were $2 records at best, one was a $4 or $5 record and I bought one- the Young Snakes- Aimee Mann's pre 'til Tuesday record in fantastic shape and told him he was crazy on the rest. He assured me he would have no problem getting $10 each for the others. I found the others down the row for $1 each about 3 minutes later. Had no other time for record shopping and I know there are more stores in the area but I recommend checking out the swap meet, I picked up a ton of stuff there at rock-bottom prices in great shape (better than most record stores I've been in). No comparison to our swap meet here in Arizona which would never be an option for records.


Posted - 06/23/2007 : 23:22:53
Back for round 2:Back to the Thrift Store, picked up about 30-40 titles, nothing more than $1.99, got some cool stuff (Vapors -Magnets, etc) again, all bagged and in great shape. Went to Lou's Records in Encinitas (15 minutes North of San Diego) prett good selection of vinyl, condition was an issue for a lot of stuff, nothing too spectacular, then I got to the 99 cent bins, found 70-75 titles, some really cool stuff (Horizontal Brian Sealed copy, Godfathers Birth Scool Work Death Dance Mix 12" with a perfect copy of a promotional photo inside, Pete Shelley Homosapien Dance Mix). Plenty of used CD's here at decent prices. Lou's has a building next store with all new CD's, nothing special. Went to Record City, great selection, awesome $1 bin, picked up 60-70 titles there, great staff, very friendly, highly recommended.Walked around the corner to Taang! unbelievable amount of rare punk vinyl 45's and LP's, at Top eBay prices, literally. Conversation while I was there between two employees (probably owner and employee) " It's online ranging from $40-$100" "OK, price it at $100". I didn't buy anything but if you just have to have that rare punk stuff, it's probably the place to go. Drove over to Off The Record again, didn't buy anything, it was almost like they hadn't gotten any new records in since I was there in March. Last day, went to the Swap Meet (this morning), pretty disappointing, hardly any people selling records this time, did pick up some 45's by The Ruts, Killing Joke and Blancmange and Duran Duran Carnival EP. Nothing over $1, mostly 50 cents.