The world-renowned Amoeba Records lives up to its hype. With a frequently changing stock of new and used media, you can basically get whatever you want here. Oh, and did I mention that it’s gigantic? The entire store is 24,000 square feet and houses over 100,000 CDs, vinyl records, cassettes, DVDs, laser discs, and more.
Like many small record shops, 12 Tonar doubles as a label for local Icelandic acts. While it might not be impressive in size, it is incredibly influential and serves as a meeting place for musicians like Björk and Sigur Rós.
Aquarius Records has been a fixture of San Francisco’s music scene since 1970, making it one of the longest-running record shops in the United States. The store carries a wide range of stock, but is most famous for its extensive selection of psychedelia, metal, and drone music.
4. Tower Records in Tokyo, Japan
For many, Tower Records was the place to discover music. Tower shuttered in 2006 after 46 years of existence — that is, everywhere except Tokyo! Japan is known for its incredible record stock, so I can only assume its Tower Records is one of the best to ever exist. Like, ever.
Heaven is a place on earth! Perhaps the most uncreative name for any music store ever — Princeton Record Store Exchange gets straight to the point — affordable albums of every genre for every music fan. If you’re in the market for rarities, look no further.
You cannot even begin to talk techno or house or dub or any electronic music for that matter without bringing up Berlin’s Spacehall. The beautiful minimalist design of the store suits its refined, highly stylish musical aesthetic.
A crate digger’s dream: The Thing in Brooklyn appears to be a regular secondhand store… that is, until you walk into the back room and uncover stacks on stacks on stacks of records. A lot of its stock isn’t in the best condition, but that doesn’t even matter. if you spend a few hours in there you’re sure to strike gold. And unlike other NYC institutions like Other Music, Academy Records and Kim’s, it’s doubtful you’ll find another store on Earth anything like it.
8. Waterloo Records in Austin, Texas
It makes sense that the “live musical capital of the world” would be the home of a record shop famous for hosting amazing in-store performances. Even better, Waterloo is a truly massive shop that you could get lost in for hours.
Forever Young is so massive that it’s more like a permanent record fair than a regular record store. Located in the middle of Grand Prairie, Texas in a series of strip malls, the store represents that if you look hard enough, you can find an amazing record store anywhere.
Mabu Vinyl is a must music shopping in South Africa. Spanning genre, mediums, and decades, its beautiful store has something for everyone. They even have a large stock of music-related zines.
Everyone knows Sweden is the greatest place on earth for music, so the fact that both Stockholm and Gothenberg are hubs for independent music stores is totally predictable, but completely awesome. Pet Sounds in the nation’s capital is arguably the best of them all, and often doubles as a bar in the evening.
There’s no shortage of record stores in Chicago, but Reckless just happens to have one of the town’s most active, and the inspiration for Championship Vinyl in High Fidelity. After opening in 1989, the store has branched off into two additional locations, but just make sure to check out the original on Broadway.
Mississippi Records is nowhere near the largest record store in Portland — that distinction goes to Jackpot — but it’s definitely the most interesting. The store began as a label specializing in music from Thailand and West Africa, but the shop stocks a wide range of obscure and amazing music, including old blues, country, and folk.
Nashville is a town of institutions and Grimey’s is no exception. It’s a store beloved by the city’s residents, and has a sort of hometown family feel. And who knows? Maybe if you’re lucky you’ll visit at the same time as locals like Taylor Swift or Ke$ha.
1) Electric Fetus is the best name for anything, ever. 2) It’s so awesome to know that a town that hosts THE MALL OF AMERICA can also support an independent record store. 3) For music fans in the Midwest, this is the go to. 4) For people on tour, it’s a lifesaver.
When they say England invented punk rock, they’re probably just talking about Rough Trade East. Countless legends have walked through those doors, many of them have played inside. The images and memorabilia on the walls are museum worthy, making this a necessary pilgrimage for all music nerds.
The number of independent music stores in Buenos Aires rivals that of the largest cities in the United States. Exiles Records specialize in all things indie while still accurately representing Argentina’s impressive musical history. The store truly might be one of the best on the continent.
Retroactive Records has been around since 2004, holds about 36,000 titles at any given moment, and exclusively carries vinyl. While some shops begin as labels, Retroactive is going in the opposite direction, and is planning to launch a reissue label in the near future.
Japan’s third largest city is also one of its most dynamic, and a hub for record collectors everywhere. Flake Records is especially representative of that, and is known for being a treasure trove of rare imports.
Souffle Continu is a gorgeous record store in the heart of Paris with a name that translates roughly to “continuous breath.” The shop, which has a striking modernist design, stocks a wide range of current independent artists from around the world while promoting and celebrating its local acts.
Keltainen Jäänsärkijä is an eclectic shop proves Finland isn’t all black metal, and regularly updates its stock for the latest and best in rock and pop.
Purple Record specializes in independent music, and is extremely popular with visitors to South Korea. It’s also just minutes away from Hongik University, so expect a crowd of arty college students perusing the shelves.
Scotland may have invented indie pop, but they’ve certainly perfected the sale of it. Love Music is the twee-est name for any record store ever, but don’t let it fool you: A careful eye could find just about anything here.
Piccadilly Records is great for many reasons, but the one that might be most noteworthy is that it is well known and respected for having a GENUINELY FRIENDLY STAFF. Like, when’s the last time you went to a record store and the clerks were pleasant?
Elastic Witch in Dublin prides itself on having the latest and greatest in independent music, acting as both a community space and a discovery zone for all curious shoppers.
In recent years, Montreal has proven to be a mecca for all thing indie electro pop, Atom Heart lives up to the title. Its European decor invites shoppers in, but the diverse selection keeps them there.
While Russia’s relationship with punk rock isn’t the best — just ask Pussy Riot — it is reassuring to know that spaces like Pushkinskaya 10 exist. More of a community arts center than record store, the space allows people young and old to explore underground interests and ideas.
- Bitterly cold temperatures and arctic winds began freezing large swathes of the U.S. Northeast ❄️