Record Store Day, an international celebration of independent record stores, falls on Saturday, April 19, this year. Do your part to support these vital cultural institutions by browsing the bins at any or all of the best record stores in New York City. By Jessica Allen.
Academy Records & CDs
If record stores in New York were a family, then Academy Records would be the grand dame. The Flatiron location opened in 1977 as a bookstore, and today sells a huge variety of used LPs and CDs, mostly rock, jazz, avant garde, and classical. Its annex in Brooklyn offers new and used LPs. Our advice? Carve out a day to spend time at both. Fortify yourself for looking through the massive stock with energy drinks and granola bars, and don’t forget to pack some patience. You never know what you’ll find here.
Good Records, in the East Village, sells good records, in particular vintage vinyl in such genres as soul, disco, blues, rap, rock, house, jazz, funk, gospel, reggae, and international (mostly from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa). The focus is on music from the 1950s to the present, and frequent turnover means constant surprises. Buy, browse, sell, or trade—the sales staff does a great job curating whatever’s newly arrived. It’s tiny, sure, but nevertheless it’s a collector’s dream.
Since 1995, Other Music has specialized in rare, underground, and experimental music. Here’s where to go to get the latest from Yaaba Funk, Ellie Pop, and Alice Bowman, among lots of other artists and acts both new and classic. In addition to LPs, you can stock up on CDs, including many, many titles priced at less than a cup of coffee. There are concert DVDs and Blu-rays too. Stay in the know by signing up for the store’s email update, with staff recs and reviews as well as giveaways.
Greenpoint’s Permanent Records does what a lot of record stores can’t or won’t do: it makes you feel welcome, as if the store and its staff were genuinely glad you stopped by. The space is warm and inviting, with a vinyl listening station. The salespeople happily chat and make recommendations, or leave you alone to browse, if that’s your preference. You can trade in your titles for new and used LPs or CDs, or thumb through organized, clean racks to find whatever it is you didn’t know you’d been looking for.
The first U.S. location of a well-loved, well-regarded British record store and indie label offers more than records, although the records it offers are terrific, curated by those who follow their tastes rather than the latest fashions or data from focus groups. Indeed, this Williamsburg warehouse-turned-vinyl epicenter has an art gallery, a performance space, a cafe, and a shop-within-a-shop that sells musical instruments. The original London shop opened in 1976, so you know these folks know what they’re doing.