Record collecting is an eternal pilgrimage: the cleaning and arranging of records, carefully taking them in and out of the sleeve, slowly placing them down to the mat, and finally placing the needle where you want it to be before you drown in sound and drift off to somewhere your body can’t reach.
Record collecting and living its lifestyle is a holy process and routine acted out in doses, but digging crates is where everything begins, like an ablution. Every single time, a collector prays like a saint to score a good find. Hundreds and hundreds of crates, nooks, bargain stores, and of course, record stores all across the globe, are always in in the bulleted list of what to do for a traveling collector, and entering each one is possibly equal to the feeling a starving tourist gets once that Instagram photo is posted. Just kidding, it’s definitely more than that.
For most collectors, the more rare or offbeat the place of purchase is, the better. But there are some well-known record stores all over the globe that should be visited if you’re jetting off and if you want to find gems in places you go. Here are some record stores that we think should be on your next digging adventure, just so you can make your music snob friends jealous.
- Mabu Vinyl (Cape Town, South Africa)
If you’ve seen the documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” then you’ll definitely be familiar with this store. Owner Stephen “Sugar” Segerman was a huge fan of Rodriguez, a musician with socio-political lyricism who was big in South America but never really made it in the Western scene (you probably saw the movie, if you haven’t and you’re on a music blog right now, we highly, highly suggest you check it out). The cozy-looking store is a consumerist bohemian’s dream, with a vast collection of every genre you can think of, and they have a wide collection of music zines.
- Pet Sounds (Stockholm, Sweden)
Despite being the birthplace of Spotify, the world’s leading source of digital tunes, Stockholm has a good reputation for having some of the best places to find analog music. Pet Sounds is a go-to joint for vinyl heads in the city, and it has a wide collection of records: from classics to modern genres and sub-genres.
- Reckless Records (Chicago, USA)
The inspiration for High Fidelity’s “Championship Vinyl,” this record stop in Chicago is a staple for DJs and hardcore collectors in the area. Aside from being a cool place to hang, the store also regularly feature concerts and gigs, making it the ultimate music haven. There’s nothing like stepping into a place immortalized in the book and movie about musical elitism and trying to match that knowledge on women. Who knows, maybe you’ll bump into someone in the new wave section and you start talking about having a date afterwards.
- 12 Tonar (Reykjavik, Iceland)
This influential record store in the country’s capital is not only a good place to dig records, but it’s also known as an independent label for budding musicians. Sigur Ros and Bjork regularly meet up in this place to buy and swap records (and probably exchange ways on how to be more successfully weird in the music industry).
- Aquarius Records (San Francisco, California)
Known to be one of the longest-running record stores in the United States, Aquarius Records is a paradise for psychedelic, drone, ambient, and metal heads. Known as the oldest independent vinyl store in SF, Aquarius has chilled out interiors with draped ceilings and neatly stacked records in some of the weirdest genres you’ll love to listen to. The store has undergone a change of ownership, but it hasn’t changed the vibe and the quality of titles the store has to offer. Those who frequent the store are well aware of how masterfully curated the selection of this record store is. The staff writes extensive reviews for the records, and hardcore music fans know that heart and soul exist in everything in it.