18 Record Stores Every Music Lover Needs To Visit At Least Once

Billboard reported this week that vinyl sales were the only format of music experiencing growth — for the first time ever, digital sales declined.

So we wanted to provide a guide for the greatest list of vinyl shops on earth.

You may have seen some of these lists elsewhere. But with a couple of exceptions, there won’t be much overlap. Our list is based on a combination of aesthetics and the exclusivity of their holdings. You won’t find L.A.’s Amoeba, Chicago’s Reckless Minneapolis’ Electric Foetus, and Nashville’s Grimey’s — everyone knows about those. We also excluded ones from Portland and Austin, as we figured their collections of indie rock could be found throughout the world (though please write if you believe we’re mistaken).

The other thing: many of the record stores that should have been on this list have gone to the great turntable in the sky…

But perhaps that makes the following survivors all the more notable.

Check it out.

1) Spillers Records, Cardiff, Wales

Spillers lays claim to being the oldest record shop in the world, having operated out of one location or another in Cardiff since 1894, when it sold phonographs, wax phonograph cylinders and shellac phonograph discs.

2) Picadilly Records, Manchester, UK

The place that gave the world England’s greatest indie bands, from The Smiths to Joy Division and New Order. As Morrissey wrote in his recent autobiography, “It is here that secures the New York Dolls’ first LP as the main window of hte shop blazes with 30 Dolls sleeves stapled together in a dramatic traffic-stopping mosaic, 50 million unimpressed shoppers running by with a speed suddenly increased by the sight of Arthur Kane.”

3) Wuxtry Records, Athens, Ga.

The shop that launched a thousand indie bands, because it launched America’s greatest one: REM. It’s here that future guitarist Peter Buck worked after dropping out of Emory, and where he is said to have met singer Michael Stipe (not to mention the band’s lawyer).

4) Gramophone Records, Chicago

Some shops gave birth to bands; Gramophone gave birth to an entire genre, Chicago House. The dusty original moved up the block several years ago but remains as vital as ever.

5) Mazeeka Samir Fouad, Cairo

Here’s how online music zine The Quietus editor John Doran describes this joint:

“It is packed to the gills with giant reconditioned gramophone players, huge valve radios and other long outdated formats for playing music. The walls are lined with Egyptian film posters and portraits of stars such as Umm Kulthum and Abdul el-Halim Hafez, the Nightingale of the Nile. I buy a (literally) dusty pile of albums by the former and Joost buys some jazz 7″s. I waver dangerously for a second when [the proprietor] offers to sell me one of the many pear-shaped ouds hanging from the ceiling.”

6) Forever Young Records, Grand Prairie (near Dallas), Texas

Just look at it: 11,000 square feet of wax and platinum:

7) The Thing, Brooklyn

Everything is $US2 and there are possibly a million records. If you like your music shopping to double as a test of will, this is your sport.

8) OHM, Dubai

According to Time Out Dubai, OHM is “the first store in the Middle East and South Asia to carry vinyl.” Presumably they mean modern music on vinyl — Beirut has a long, rich history of incredible east-west crossover productions — but the place seems chill.

9) Spacehall, Berlin

The coolest record store in the coolest city in the world. Also doubles as a performance space.

10) Tower Records, Tokyo

The last one left on Earth!

11) Louisiana Music Factory, New Orleans

Home to the greatest collection of New Orleans jazz, cajun, zydeco and big band music in the world.

12) Shangri-La, Memphis

Generally regarded as the greatest collection of Memphis blues discs in the city.

13) Jazzhole, Lagos, Nigeria

Serving all your Afrobeat and Fela Kuti needs. Also has frequent live in-store performances.

14) Submerge, Detroit

Home of the Underground Resistance, the politically active wing of Detroit’s techno scene. Also home of the greatest collection of Detroit techno and electronic records in the world.

15) Rotate This, Toronto

This tiny shop helped fuel the careers of Canada’s greatest indie bands including Broken Social Scene and F*** Up.

16) Big Oomp, Atlanta

If you like your hip hop extra dirty, this is where you want to go.

17) Earnest Tubbs, Nashville

Again, everyone will tell you to go to Grimey’s. Where you should really go is Tubbs’, the real home of country.

18) 12 Tónar, Rejkavik, Iceland

All of the best classical recordings in the world appear to have been packed up and moved here, to this tiny house at the top of the world. According to classical authority Gramophone, this has probably made it the great classical outlet on the planet.

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