For the first time in more than thirty years, sales of vinyl records are on track to outpace CDs, which continue to be clobbered by the power of online streaming. And while it’s still a market niche, according to a mid-year report from the Recording Industry of America, vinyl earned a whopping $224.1 million in just the first half of 2019.

That’s not counting a bustling trade in used records at more than 1,000 dedicated independent record stores in the States alone, buoyed by popular retail holidays like Black Friday and Record Store Day (aka, Rex Manning Day to those Empire Records fans out there). 

It just goes to show it may not be hard to find great vinyl records, but it can prove challenging to choose the ‘right’ store for hunting down prime wax. We rounded up 10 of the world’s greatest record stores across four continents, all of which are worth visiting as part of your next record-shopping venture.

Shoppers sort through bins of albums at Shuga Records. In the center of the image is a young man with red hair in a grey hoodie with a red backpack holding a blue album. In focus behind him is a purple mural, a purple inflatable alien toy, and a neon sign in red and green reading "Record Surplus" where the O in Record looks like an album
Shoppers sort through bins of records at Shuga in Chicago on Record Store Day 2019. © Kamil Krzaczynski via Getty Images

Shuga Records in Chicago, IL

An ideal spot for both new and used vinyl, Chicago’s Shuga is a popular spot in the famous Wicker Park neighborhood. Open 7 days a week, the Shuga Records warehouse is known to keep over a half-million record in-stock at any given time. The store is also popular for its long tradition of in-store concerts and artist-endorsed listening parties. In its prior incarnation as Atomic Records, Shuga once hosted the likes of Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins on its stage.

Note: due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Shuga Records orders must be placed online for curbside pickup 24 hours later. Hours are now Mon-Sun 12-7 PM US Central Time. New drops, including for Record Store Day, are announced online. Call ahead if you have any questions (773) 278-4085.

Sound Station in Fredriksberg, Copenhagen, Denmark

Sound Station has been an ideal place to not only find vinyl, but also music, movies and memorabilia since 1991. Stylistically diverse, Sound Station covers all sorts of genres, including jazz, punk, mainstream pop, and club mixes. Zombies bassist Søren Koch and legendary singer/songwriter Tim Christensen are known to be regulars at the shop, located in Copenhagen's tony Fredriksberg neighborhood. After scoring, say, a vintage Monkees or Animals record, you can make another stop at the nearby Copenhagen Zoo.

Musician Chris Cornell sits in an oatmeal colored sweater at a white card table in front of a blue backdrop and red and white Vintage Vinyl logo banner as a photographer in a black hat and grey shirt snaps a photo of Cornell with a fan in a tan jacket and jeans at a promotional event in 2011.
The late grunge pioneer Chris Cornell poses with fans at a promotional event in 2011, one of many celebrity appearances Vintage Vinyl has hosted over the years. © Jim Spellman via Getty Images

Vintage Vinyl in Fords, New Jersey

Since 1979, Vintage Vinyl is known to be the largest independent record store in New Jersey – no slouch in a state with such a serious musical pedigree. While set in a suburban strip mall, Vintage Vinyl has attracted a ‘who’s who’ over the years for in-store performances and/or signings over the years. This includes Ozzy Osbourne, The New York Dolls, Queens Of The Stone Age, Liz Phair, and Ryan Adams. Notably, it's also a great spot to score limited-edition titles such as those issued annually on Record Store Day.

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, masks are required in store, though normal hours were restored in June, 2020.

Spillers Records in Cardiff, Wales

Spillers Records has been slinging wax since 1894 – literally. The shop originally sold wax phonograph cylinders and musical instruments, and has managed to survive changing tastes, technology and several moves around Cardiff over the past 126 years. They even have a Guinness World Record to back up their claims of longevity, and the selection to please generations of crate-diggers.

The facade of the disk union building in Tokyo's Shinjuku neighborhood puts classic album art in black and white in each window pane, so the building looks like a record bin. Between every two rows of picture-filled windows are long black signs that say "disk union" in a red san serif font.
Shinjuku is already a fun neighborhood for rock fans, full of karaoke bars and live music venues as well as vinyl record stores like Disk Union © Jenny Jones via Getty Images

Disk Union in Tokyo, Japan

While technically a chain of Japanese stores, Disk Union – with locations in and around Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama – has been thriving since its first shop opened in 1967. Arguably the most impressive store in the Disk Union fleet is the 8-floor store in splashy, fun-filled Shinjuku. Each level has its own theme – for example, Latin/Brazilian sounds are on the 4th floor, while prog-rock fans ought to go one floor lower to 3F. Records, CDs and books are all for sale at this store, too, just in case you want to stock up on all the media.

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Disk Union has adjusted its hours. Check their website for the latest information on when they are open.

Horizon Records in Greenville, South Carolina

Horizon Records shares space with the Bohemian Cafe, a restaurant which also hosts local artists. Selling a mix of old, new, famous and local, both casual fans and serious vinyl collectors have plenty to be excited about when browsing the shelves of Greenville’s Horizon, which have been packed with wax since 1975. For budget buyers and deal-seakers, hidden in plain sight behind the cash register is a back area with clearance CDs and LPs, including plenty of interesting $1 offerings.

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, masks are required in store, and new rules are in place to protect customers.

The exterior of Guestroom Records in Louisville, Kentucky is a two-story building with white clapboard siding. The storefront consists of two plate-glass windows on either side of a doorway, filled with colorful event posters and a large cartoony logo of an orange couch, an orange side table, with a record player on top. The concrete sidewalk extends to the left, showing a pretty tree-lined street and a pedestrian.
Guestroom Records is located in the hip, eclectic Louisville, Kentucky neighborhood of Clifton, close to shops and restaurants in old Victorian buildings. © Darren Paltrowitz / Lonely Planet

Guestroom Records in Louisville, Kentucky

Both a buyer and seller of music, Guestroom Records in Louisville, Kentucky sells not only CDs and records but also cassette tapes; it regularly participates in Cassette Store Day and Record Store Day events. Especially tied in with the local Louisville music scene, Guestroom Records often hosts events at local spots like The Nachbar, Galaxie and the Hilltop Tavern. It also stands out from other record stores in having had its own record label for over a decade.

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, masks are required in store, and new rules are in place to protect customers.

Red Eye Records in Sydney, Australia

Part of the Sydney music scene since 1981, Red Eye Records is the city's largest indie music shop. In addition to the broad selection that suggests, Red Eye also specializes in rare, out of print and unique finds from the Land Down Under. So whether you're looking for the latest remastered reissue by Paul McCartney or something more along the lines of Gondwanaland's 1987 album featuring "legendary one-armed didgeridoo player Charlie McMahon," you'll be in good hands with this crew.

A red haired woman in a black tank top with black sunglasses stands in profile in front of a small crowd watching a rooftop concert on the black brick building of Third Man Records, with yellow and red brick insets in the facade.
A rooftop show draws a crowd at Third Man vinyl record store in Nashville, Tennessee © Jason Kempin via Getty Images

Third Man Records in Nashville, Tennessee

Third Man Records first existed as a Detroit, Michigan-based record label synonymous with The White Stripes and its leader Jack White. In 2009, Third Man opened a Nashville storefront that arguably has something for everyone. In addition to all the crates of vinyl, Third Man also has a novelties lounge – including the Third Man Record Booth, a unique straight-to-acetate studio where Neil Young recorded a 2014 release via White’s label.

The Third Man experience is made complete by a live venue playing host to the likes of Starcrawler, the Jacuzzi Boys, and Kent Osborne. Ticketed tours are offered on Fridays and Saturdays on a first-come-first-served basis as Third Man’s facilities also include a photo studio and other recording facilities.

Taang! Records in San Diego, California

When a long-time fan of hardcore and punk hears the name ‘Taang! Records,’ they most likely think of the Boston-based indie label which introduced the world to the likes of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Gang Green and Slapshot. While Taang! continues to regularly put out new releases, it also has a record store in San Diego which specializes in vintage and reissue titles. Open 7 days a week from 11:30 AM through 9:30 PM, the hours at Taang! are ideal for late-risers and post-dinner shoppers in Hillcrest, San Diego’s hip gayborhood.

A woman in blue skinny jeans, brown booties, a white hi-lo top, and camel-colored sweater snaps a photo on her phone of the Electric Fetus building, a brick storefront with a large purple, orange, and tan 70s-style font and an illustration of cat tails with waving leaves.
Electric Fetus is not only a great destination for vinyl record collectors, but also Prince fans. Prince was known to shop here before his death in 2016. © Craig Lassig via Getty Images

The Electric Fetus in Minneapolis, Minnesota

A record store with locations in both Minneapolis and Duluth, The Electric Fetus is seen by many as Minnesota’s top independent record store. Founded in 1968, Prince was known to be along-time customer of the store. Available for special-order items, The Electric Fetus also sells clothing, cards, jewelry, posters, incense, candles and smoking-related accessories.

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, masks are required in store, and new rules are in place to protect customers.

Nextime Records in Santiago, Chile

Vendors of music in all major formats, including vinyl, Nextime Records is the sort of spot that has simultaneous appreciation for Morrissey, M83, Metallica and Madonna. Located within the Providencia commune within the Santiago Province, expect a cozy spot with throwback vibes and affordable prices amidst a slick, palm-tree lined shopping district. 

You may also like:  
The vinyl frontier: a crate digger’s guide to Paris
Viva vinyl in Seattle: finding Emerald City’s music through its record stores
Where to pay homage to Prince in Minneapolis

This article was first published Oct 7, 2019 and updated Aug 27, 2020.

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