A Coast-to-Coast Guide To The Best Record Stores In The US

Digging through vinyl bins to add something unique to your collection is an adventure. It’s all about nostalgia, excitement, and the thrill of the hunt. Finding a rare album isn’t just about expanding your collection; it often becomes a moment worth sharing on Instagram. Examples of two prized albums many collectors are hunting for include the Beatles’ “White Album,” for its highly-coveted low serial numbers (we’re talking first editions), and Elvis’ “My Happiness.” There is just one acetate disc of the king’s first recording known to exist. If you are willing to travel across the country for certain highly sought-after vinyl records, you definitely want to take a look at our list of the best record stores in the U.S.

Many record stores managed to survive the rise of CDs and digital downloads. While new stores are popping up all the time, hoping to cash in on the resurgence of vinyl, sometimes the real treasures lie in the most unassuming, dusty corners. What’s old has become new again, fueling a vibrant culture around collecting records. Where should your hunt begin? StudyFinds has created a list of the top six best record stores in the U.S. that you don’t want to miss, according to collectors across eight websites. Did we miss a favorite that collectors need to visit? Let us know in the comments!

Someone playing music on a record player
Someone playing a vinyl record (Photo by Vladimir Sukhachev on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Record Stores in the U.S., Per Audiophiles

1. Amoeba Music

Amoeba's selection of records at their Hollywood Location
Amoeba’s selection of records at their Hollywood Location (amoeba.com)

Amoeba Music is a haven for music lovers, existing as an independent record store chain on the West Coast. Established in 1990 in Berkeley, California, it has since expanded to San Francisco and Hollywood, Los Angeles. They’re known for their massive selection of music and movies, catering to all genres from chart-toppers to underground favorites. Amoeba has become a popular tourist destination due to its sheer volume of options and iconic status within the music community. Interestingly, they’ve not only survived the decline of CD sales but thrived by embracing the resurgence of vinyl records and focusing on a thriving trade-in program for used items.

Amoeba Music is considered the gold standard in the record industry. The chain is known for stocking a great collection of new and used merchandise, along hard to hard-to-find posters. These stores aren’t just about browsing vinyl and merch, Matador Network says. They also double as mini concert venues, featuring both established bands and hot new acts.

According to The Discoverer, the Hollywood store claims to be the largest independent record store in the world. You can probably spend hours getting lost in all the vinyl. You may even score a performance from a big name. For example, Paul McCartney has played here. These stores aren’t just vinyl and band tees – they’ve got a movie haven waiting for you inside. We’re talking thousands of films, from shoestring-budget indies to cult classics and the latest blockbusters.

Whether you’re looking for CDs, DVDs, or records, you will probably find what you’re looking for at one of the chain’s three locations. The record bins in the L.A. store are like a musical adventure, offering everything from laid-back reggae vibes and rocksteady jams to face-melting death metal and kitschy tiki bar tunes, raves The Travel Channel. That’s quite the range!

2. Electric Fetus

Steeped in Minneapolis music history, The Electric Fetus isn’t just a record store, it’s a local institution. Founded in 1968 on the city’s West Bank by four friends, it started as a cultural experiment and has maintained an independent spirit ever since. Their shelves hold a treasure trove of new and used CDs, DVDs, and vinyl, catering to a wide range of music tastes. From classic rock to the latest indie releases, they’ve got you covered. The Electric Fetus also keeps a pulse on the vibrant Minneapolis music scene by offering a strong selection of local artists.

Just the name ought to grab your attention! The Minneapolis record store was a favorite haunt for Prince who reportedly bought a stash of CDs just a week before he died. The store has is a magnet for legendary tales, including the one where the owner was arrested for placing a “peace flag” in a window. According to Rolling Stone, the store is filled with an eclectic mix of customers, searching for a new vinyl treasure.

Electric Fetus might raise an eyebrow with its name, but trust us, it’s a hidden gem, according Spin. Despite the odd moniker, this shop is a haven for music lovers, offering a cool atmosphere and likely a treasure trove of vinyl waiting to be discovered. You’ll also find other oddball items like a cat pizza slicer. They even give out old-fashioned discount punch cards. Talk about retro!

This store might hold the dubious honor of National Lampoon’s “worst named business” award, but don’t let the name fool you! Step inside and prepare for a wild ride – from the eclectic selection to the overall vibe, expect the unexpected, the Matador Network says. Think of it as a music lover’s wonderland, overflowing with cool finds and guaranteed to be one of the most unique stores you’ll ever visit!

3. Easy Street Records and Cafe

In Seattle, a city synonymous with grunge and alternative music, Easy Street Records stands as a haven for vinyl enthusiasts. Founded in 1988 in West Seattle, Easy Street has become a music lover’s landmark. They offer a vast selection of both new and used vinyl records, catering to a wide range of musical tastes. Beyond vinyl, you’ll also find CDs, cassettes, music-related books and magazines, and even merchandise showcasing their brand.

Easy Street Records isn’t just about shopping – they’ve cultivated a community atmosphere. Their cafe, serving American breakfasts, burgers, and salads, is a popular spot to refuel after browsing the stacks. Some nights, the upstairs bar even transforms into a music venue, where music fans can catch live performances by local and national artists. Travel Channel says it’s a great place to hang out for coffee and live shows.

If you still have an eight-track tape collection, you can unload it here (not sure who will admit to that). According to The Discoverer, you will find various music genres from “country to grunge” and everything in between. They even serve up a Dolly Parton pancake and James Brown’s hash browns.

You may run into Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder who has a long-running relationship with the store after the Seattle native performed in 2005. According to Fifty Grande, he even released a special EP of the show called “Live at Easy Street.”

4. Waterloo

Austin, Texas is known for its eclectic music scene and Waterloo is at the core. The store is known for its “Vinyl Happy Hour”, live performances, and artist signings. Rolling Stone says if you try to go during South by Southwest, expect major crowds. Located in the heart of the city, Waterloo Records has been a haven for music lovers for over 40 years. The shop offers a distinctive shopping experience with a simple A-Z filing system, making it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for, or perhaps stumble upon a hidden gem while browsing.

Waterloo frequently hosts in-store performances by local and touring artists, keeping Austin’s vibrant music scene alive within their walls. They’ve even hosted legendary artists like Willie Nelson for in-store signings.

Waterloo has been the top pick annually by Austin Chronicle Readers’ Poll since opening in 1982, according to the Matador Network. You can find vinyl, CDs, and music memorabilia in a DIY space where browsing for hours is easy. It supports local bands and is a key SXSW venue, hosting iconic acts like Nirvana and St. Vincent, making it the essence of the local music scene. Stop by to immerse yourself in the core of Austin’s musical culture.

Feeling overwhelmed by the vinyl selection at Waterloo Records? No worries! Their staff is there to turn you into a record-buying pro, note Fifty Grande. These music gurus are passionate and knowledgeable, always happy to suggest hidden gems or steer you towards their top picks and staff favorites. Basically, they’re like your personal guides through the world of vinyl, ensuring you walk out with records you’ll love.

5. Reckless

If you’re a vinyl enthusiast venturing into Chicago, Reckless Records should be your record crate digging destination. For three decades, Reckless Records has served as Chicago’s premier indie destination for CDs, vinyl, and DVDs. This independent record store chain boasts three locations scattered throughout the city, ensuring there’s a Reckless Records within easy reach. Originally from London, the store’s Wicker Park outpost even inspired the set of the movie “High Fidelity,” thanks to its welcoming atmosphere and shelves brimming with used vinyl (Rolling Stone).

Founded in 1989, the first Reckless Records opened its doors with a dedication to both new and used vinyl, encompassing a vast selection of domestic and imported records. Beyond vinyl, they also carry CDs, DVDs, and video games, offering a well-rounded selection for music and entertainment lovers.

Spin agrees you can’t go wrong at any one of the Reckless locations. Now nearing 40 years in business, sifting through bin after bin will be “worth your time.” You’ll find a good mix of new and old, too. The head music buyer told Matador Network he prides himself on stocking something for everyone. They even offer hand-written reviews and a wall of staff picks.

6. Grimey’s New & Preloved Music

The country music capital of the world is home to this iconic independent record shop that rounds out our list. It’s so popular, that grabbing a Grimey’s t-shirt is almost as good as finding a collector’s item. Rolling Stone reports the store moved from its 8th Avenue location to a new store in East Nashville and now has more room for inventory and live performances.

Grimey’s isn’t just a record store, it’s a local landmark. Established in 2000 by music lover Mike Grimes, the store offers a treasure trove of new and pre-loved vinyl records, spanning genres from country classics to the latest indie releases. But Grimey’s doesn’t stop there – you’ll also find a carefully curated selection of CDs, cassettes, music DVDs & Blu-rays, and even turntables for those just starting their vinyl journey.

Nestled in a former church, this Music City favorite is filled with both new and second-hand vinyl. Wrensilva says it’s even stocked with an eight-track tape or two. The store is a wall-to-wall blast from the past and the owners are very proud of that saying they’ve saved music in a digital world since 1999. The Discoverer says you’ll find every genre of music on the store’s shelves. You also may run into a well-seasoned or an up-and-coming artist. They often drop in for free concerts.


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

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About the Author

Amy Chodroff

Amy Chodroff is a recovering Morning Radio Show Host and award-winning broadcaster who recently retired from DFW’s Morning News on KLIF in Dallas. Fondly known as the “Chief Googler” by her friends, it was a seamless transition for StudyFinds to enlist her expertise for their “Best of the Best” franchise. Amy has an innate curiosity and a penchant for thorough research before any purchase and she’s constantly on the hunt for top-notch products. Outside of her digital explorations, Amy loves to explore the world with her husband and is the proud mother of two adult daughters. You can also find Amy on the pickleball court, perfecting her dink and drop shots.

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  1. one obvious omission: Goner records in Memphis, TN. Not only is it a great store with awesome employees/owners that runs the gamut of all the genres, used and new product, plus books, shirts, and other ephemera, but every year in the fall it puts on probably the greatest music fest (Gonerfest) in all of rock n roll in the US of A.

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