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While digital music has now become the norm, few experiences compare to the thrill of sifting through a stack of vinyl records. New York City is home to the most extensive collection of vinyl record stores in the world. Whether you’re an audiophile looking to add to your collection or a casual browser missing the feel of records, here are the best record stores to visit in the Big Apple.
- Turntable Lab
- Academy Records
- A1 Record Shop
- Generation Records
- Captured Tracks
- Heaven Street Records
- Brooklyn Record Exchange
- Good Records NYC
- Jazz Record Center
In this article, I’ll take you through each of these excellent record stores and the products and experiences they have to offer.
Table of Contents
1. Turntable Lab
Turntable Lab prides itself on being selective with the quality of the products they offer. The store started by catering to DJs and providing high-quality audio equipment, including turntables and sound mixers.
Today, they continue to cater to aspiring DJs while housing a unique collection of vinyl records. If you’re a hip-hop lover, few record stores can offer the solace you’ll find here at Turntable Lab. Aside from records and audio equipment, they also provide streetwear, production gear, and vinyl toys, including an action figure of the late J-Dilla.
As a record store, TTL focuses primarily on new releases and reissues rather than old records. So if you’re digging for the classics, you may not find many at this store. However, TTL caters to a wide variety of music tastes, and you’re sure to be pleasantly surprised by the wide range of genres they carry.
Aside from audio equipment and vinyl records, this store also sells books and magazines related to music and the art of DJing. And while it’s recognized primarily as a record store, TTL was instrumental in uplifting the DJ movement in its early stages.
2. Academy Records
Academy Records dubs itself ‘NYC’s one-stop music and movie destination.’ And considering their extensive collection of LPs, CDs, DVDs, and types of vinyl, they’re not far from the truth.
At Academy Records, you can sell records you want to get rid of and choose from an incredible collection of vinyl. While you’re sure to find records of all genres here, Academy Records specializes in jazz and rock LPs. Fans of these genres can spend hours browsing through their collection and quickly find several of their favorite artists.
They also happen to be one of the oldest record stores in NYC and pride themselves on giving customers fair prices for old records. While they host an impressive collection of genres, Academy Records is always looking for new pieces of vinyl, especially in the following categories:
- Funk Disco
If you’re in New York and planning to visit a record store, be sure to check out Academy Records, where you’ll find one of the most extensive collections of vintage vinyls.
3. A1 Records
Started by founder Isaac Kaufman in 1996, A1 Records is home to records of every genre imaginable. Here you’ll find vinyls of all types and decades, including Calypso, Techno, and even Spoken Word! So if you’re digging for something unique, A1 Records is the place to be.
However, this store is primarily geared towards DJs, with an extensive collection of Hip Hop, Jazz, and Soul music to choose from.
Many customers describe shopping at A1 Records as a therapeutic experience with crates of records to browse through and friendly staff to help whenever you have a query. One of the best things about A1 Records is that it’s frequented by famous DJs digging for new sounds to add to their arsenal. So don’t be surprised if you bump into a famous DJ or two while shopping at the store.
Some customers have claimed that their records can be pretty pricey, and perhaps a few of them are. However, A1 also has three turntables set up in the store so you can test out your records and see that they run correctly before making a purchase.
4. Generation Records
Located on Thompson Street, NY, Generation Records has been around for over two decades and is home to a vast collection of punk, metal, and rock records. While they also house several other genres, this store is best known as a haven for rock and metal enthusiasts.
Generation Records is also famous for holding rare records that customers probably won’t find elsewhere. For example, at the beginning of June, they were giving out the last few clear vinyl copies of ‘No One Rules’ by Agnostic Front.
This particular vinyl was sold only during specific days of Agnostic Front’s New York City Tour. The store still continues to provide its patrons with one-of-a-kind offers like this throughout the year.
Aside from an impressive and unique record collection to browse through, GR also hosts live Q & A sessions and signings with today’s popular artists. So if you’re looking to enjoy a unique musical experience, be sure to check out Generation Records.
From humble beginnings in a small shop on Smith Street, Brooklyn, Halcyon has grown to become one of NY’s most beloved record stores. Initially, Halcyon would provide not just records but also music memorabilia and knick-knacks like clothing and collectibles.
This record store caters to more popular genres, like dance, jazz, hip hop, funk, soul, and house, and is known as a haven for today’s music lovers.
However, Halcyon isn’t famous for its extensive record collection but rather for the communal feeling it has fostered among music lovers in the city. The staff at Halcyon describes themselves as ‘hopeless music nerds,’ and many of them are part-time DJs or music producers.
Aside from simply selling records for profit, Halcyon wishes to create a community of music lovers. Their motto, “United Against Silence,” was successful in inspiring the musicians and aspiring producers of today.
6. Captured Tracks Shop
The famous Brooklyn label ‘Captured Tracks’ decided to open a store in the area, and they’ve been a hit ever since!
The best part about Captured Tracks is that they primarily sell records from their own label. As such, you’re sure to find vinyl records from plenty of new artists that you probably won’t find elsewhere.
The label supports and promotes budding talent, offering new artists a chance to get their music out there in the mainstream media. Knowing that your purchases here are helping an upcoming artist on their career path can make the experience that much more fulfilling.
Aside from its own records, this store also sells a variety of used vinyl pieces and cassettes across various genres.
7. Heaven Street Records
Sean Ragon opened this minivan-sized record shop inside a vintage store, Fox & Fawn. While this shop is compact and tucked away inside the back room of a clothing store, you’re sure to find plenty of hidden gems when browsing.
The neatly-organized space is home to a wide variety of genres but focuses exclusively on hardcore punk and experimental music. So if you’re looking to switch up your music taste, Heaven Street Records will take you on the trip of a lifetime.
Most records here are also relatively inexpensive, which in turn helps to promote the underground, experimental music scene.
One of the most attractive features of this record store is the handwritten notes attached to each vinyl. Most of these notes were written by the founder and reflect his dedication to truly listening and understanding the music he propagates to customers.
These notes contain information about the album, the kind of listener who should buy it, and Ragon’s personal recommendations based on his taste. These cute notes add to the overall charm and allure of this cozy record store.
For hardcore vinyl collectors, the store even offers a collection of rare records sold at a premium. All you have to do is ask the staff for these hidden records, and they’ll be more than happy to show you.
8. Brooklyn Record Exchange
Brooklyn Record Exchange was recently opened through a collaboration between record label Mexican Summer and the founders of Co-Op 87 (another famous vinyl outlet in NYC). While the store was opened in 2019, it has quickly become one of the city’s most popular record stores, catering to various music genres.
The store houses many new releases by Mexican Summer, along with several reissues of electronic albums. They also sell new LPs and products like memorabilia for music enthusiasts.
The Brooklyn Record Exchange is recognized as a solid store to buy, sell, and trade records, primarily rock reggae and funk records. However, they also carry a wide selection of other genres, including house, techno, and other electronic music.
This store also publicizes new arrivals every weekend, so you can bet you’ll find something different every time you visit. Aside from the classics, you can find the latest genres here, like modern synth and chug. However, if you’re digging for gold, there are plenty of nuggets to be found here.
9. Good Records NYC
Founded in 2005, Good Records has carved a name for itself in the record store space by housing records from the 1950s onward. Good Records is known for its plethora of record types, with genres spanning from hard metal to international pieces with their own vibe.
However, most frequent visitors claim that if you’re looking for great jazz music, Good Records is the place to be. They’ve got an exciting collection of jazz records from the 1950s and even some of the latest tracks released on vinyl.
This store also sells a wide range of posters and music books if you’re looking for memorabilia to set up at home. Non-vinyl products sold at the store include books, posters, and audio equipment like speakers and turntables.
10. Jazz Record Center
Set up back in 1983, the Jazz Record Center has been trading in LPs, CDs, books, magazines, and other jazz-related music memorabilia for decades. This little store tucked away on the eighth floor is home to several records created by jazz musicians you probably haven’t heard of. However, they’re also home to music made by today’s jazz musicians and some jazz icons.
The Jazz Record Center also focuses on educating music fans about vinyl records and how to handle them. Through their experience, they have created an exhaustive guide on identifying what is and what isn’t an original Blue Note pressing. You can find both the hard copy and soft copy of this guide on their website or in the store.
Their dedication to music and adherence to certain norms make this shop a favorite among staunch jazz lovers. Their knowledge of the genre and recommendations make it the ideal record store for collectors of modern Jazz LPs.
Through their expertise, they wish to keep buyers from making costly mistakes when investing in LPs and strengthen their collection by purchasing original pieces.
You may also be interested in these articles:
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- 8 Best Vinyl Record Stores in Los Angeles
- 13 Best Vinyl Record Stores in Chicago
- 20 Best Vinyl Record Shops in London
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