10 Best Electronic Music Stores in America
The time for brick-and-mortar stores is almost over and the time for online merchants has come. This applies for everything. Music buying firmly moved online. However, in the country that gave us house and techno, there is still place for physical record stores. You just have to know where to look. Here is a list of ten best:
1. Gramaphone – Chicago
How many stores can boast that they were established in 1969? Not many. And this is not even the best thing about this store. It first focused on jazz and blues, but kept up with times and became carrying house records in the ’80s. This move put the store on the map for all DJs and vinyl lovers alike. Todays the store is owned by Smart Bar resident Michael Serafini and maintains the widest selection of house. White labels are plentiful for treasure hunters. Check out their footwork section and you won’t be disappointed.
2. A-1 – New York City
This East Village store is like a museum – filled with used vinyl from wall to wall and from floor to ceiling. The quality of records is phenomenal and the prices are pleasing. There is no one particular genre; you will find it all here. The shopping experience would here is hard to match anywhere else. World-known DJs and totally clueless buyers will be equality astounded by what this store has to offer.
3. Submerge – Detroit
Electronic music knows that Underground Resistance is somewhere in Detroit. This “somewhere” is in Detroit, a store called Submerge. This establishment has been the manufacturer, distributor, and a meeting place for Detroit labels since the early ’90s. If you are at all interested in the Detroit music history, you have to come to this living museum and see it for yourself. The building is three stories high. The basement is dedicated to the physical retail store. You have to make an appointment to shop there. You will be able to find current and back-catalogue records from UR, Transmat, KMS, Red Planet, Axis, and plenty of others. A museum-type place is waiting for you upstairs, where you will find drums machines, synthesizers, art work, and various rare record pressings for your viewing pleasure.
4. Preserved Instincts – Oak Hill, New York
New York City has always had record stores, but fewer could rival Dope Jams. That is because the owner stocked only what he considered “dope jams”. Nothing else made the cut. This did not sit well with everybody. Part of house followers never stepped in because they regarded the store as a house of snobbish dismissiveness. Artists ignored the sore because of their amusing, but vitriolic year-end lists. Rising prices and decreasing business forced the store to close in 2013 and relocate to Oak Hill under a new name of Preserved Instincts. They are still the guardians of the best underground dance music with no personality loss.
5. Halcyon the Shop – Brooklyn
This is the only store of its kind in NYC. All that is facilitated by buyers who know-it-all and want it all. This store has no matches not only here, but in the rest of the country. The store is nothing special to look at, but it can sure surprise you with all carefully-curated goods from all over the world and all kinds of genres. European imports are especially elevated here.
6. Super Soul Records – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The stacks of wax are endless and mind-boggling. Family operated store has its history going all the back to the ’80s NYC, when a known collector and record store supplier “King George” Johnson had just started out. Super Soul is his collection of used record with special attention to all dance music. You can spend days digging through all the tens of thousands of records to your heart’s content. You will need an appointment to enjoy such digging.
7. Beacon Sound – Portland
The store had to expand and just recently relocated to a bigger space. This is a good testament to its influence and solid place in all Portland’s electronic music scene. The store provides a great venue for experimental and contemporary sound. The selection of new and used records is the most diverse in the city. You will find clean and well-organized merchandise and helpful staff. Beacon has its own label, including old vinyl and some cassettes.
8. Hello Records – Detroit
The space is small and the records are not overwhelming, but the quality is supreme. The store is relatively new, opened in 2008. It is known to be like old-fashioned neighborhood stores, where you were able to find varied and eclectic stock with prices that you could live with. The store really shines at soul, funk, disco, house, and jazz. Some records are so rare that not even the savviest buyers expect. Dig patiently and you might discover your treasure.
9. Kstarke Records – Chicago
Come here if you like searching and digging. The Ukrainian Village storefront is known for various genres, not just electronic music. Classic and rare records are hiding inside if you are willing to devote some time for searching. Kevin Starke is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to disco and funk. He is usually in the store and will joyfully point you the right way if you will only ask. Chances are you will walk out with some beautiful things you never hoped of finding.
10. Aquarius Records – San Francisco
This store is known for rare and experimental music. They are definitely geared towards highly-specific and pretentious music that is not for masses. Think freak folk, field recordings, and Scandinavian death metal. Amidst all that you will find some nice ambient dub, cosmic disco, and minimal records. Where else will you find things like that?
Electronic section contains the likes of Demdike Stare, Luke Abbott, and Jeri-Jeri, among other more-known names. If these names are not underground enough, you can go further and look for names so obscure that not many electronic music aficionados have ever heard of.