Vinyl records have clearly made a resurgence in the past few years. What started off as parents passing down their old favourites has evolved into most bands offering a vinyl option with new releases. Some of the shops on this list are more than record stores, they’re landmarks in the city. Here are some must-hits when going out on a vinyl hunt.
What’s your favourite record store?
The Tiny Record Shop
Run by local record label Paper Bag, Queen Street East’s Tiny Record Shop carries records from artists signed by the label, and lots of other cool notable vinyl. You’ll see David Bowie, The Clash, and The Ramones sharing shelf space with the likes of The Kinks and Caribou.
Located at 662 College Street between Beatrice and Grace, June records has become a Toronto record store staple. Its bright atmosphere makes hunting for those valuable vinyls easy; there’s no need to squint to see. New releases are displayed on a wall as soon as you walk in, which means you can cancel your plans of asking “do you have this in yet?” They update their website with what records they’re expecting in, which can save you a trip or two, but a trip to June is never a bad thing. If it’s new or old, used or not, funk to rockabilly, you can find it at June Records.
Whether you’re a casual vinyl listener or a hardcore collector, there’s something for you at this Dundas west shop. LP’s LPs started as owner Lorenz Peter’s personal record collection and now includes obscure indie rock, psychedelic, electronic, and Canadian rarities you won’t find anywhere else.
Play De Record
This legendary record store calls 357 Yonge it’s home, offering up records of all genres, along with stereo equipment and music production classes. It’s been around for 22 years, and legend has it, it’s the very place Drake bought his first turntables.
Sonic Boom, known for it’s quirky and fun displays for new record releases, is one of the most popular vinyl stores in Toronto. If you have a long list of records you’re shopping for, expect them all to be crossed off after your visit. The staff is helpful and even offer their own picks on their website, SonicBoomMusic.com. This is the perfect store to do your late night music searching as it’s open 364 days a year, most nights until midnight. Sonic Boom is now at Queen and Spadina and has a year old space on Augusta in Kensington Market. Be on the look-out for in store performance flyers while you’re there; it’s kind of a regular occurrence.
Scott Cramer has been blasting tunes from his Queen Street West shop since 1993, before it became trendy. You can get second-hand vinyl, tapes and CDs for as low as $5, and new releases usually cost less than $10. There are $1 racks outside, and the staff hand out 10% discount cards at random or by request. Cramer has everything from Kanye West to Captain Beefheart, and also has a recording studio where restoration and video transferring happens.
The veteran Queen West vinyl vendor has a new Annex location at Bloor and Markham. Owner Nick Koppel describes the shop as having a focus on roots music: “it’s the music of rockabilly, of R&B, of the sounds that influenced the music of today.” Unofficially known as “Kops 2”, the new shop will have a more mature catalogue from the original location with a rich Canadian section, collectibles, and a deep historic atmosphere.
Open from noon to midnight, Grasshopper Records specializes in new, used and rare vinyl releases. If you’re feeling lucky, Grasshopper sells “Magical Mystery” bags of singles for $5, or bags of records for $10. They also have in-store performances, and take part in Record Store Day – and give a discount on merch in April.
Soundscapes is staffed with some of the most knowledgable music folks around and have a great attitude. They will help you find the music you are looking for and have a huge selection of indie and obscure releases for the hardcore music collector. They also have a great collection of music books for those wanting to delve even deeper. One of the best things about College West.
She Said Boom!
With two locations in YYZ it’s no wonder why NOW magazine once rated She Said Boom! as the best used record and book store. One location is more for the west-enders around the Roncesvalles area, and there’s one for the central dwelling Torontonians at Bathurst and College. If you’re looking to grab an older album and don’t mind a little character to the cover art, you will have no problem leaving this place with a bag of beauties. Whether it’s a record, book, CD, or DVD spree you’re looking to go on, either location is a must hit destination.
Discovery is the Leslieville spot to buy and sell used records. They have an emphasis on rock, but cover all genres from grunge to opera. You can also find 45s, CDs, cassettes, and music-related books and DVDs here. The turnover is good to make sure to drop in when you’re in the east end. You can also check their full inventory on the website.
If you’re looking for a unique vinyl experience, High Park’s Cabin Fever is an independent record store/cafe worth checking out. They have an online inventory available for browsing to save you some travel time, and the cafe menu is any grilled cheese lover’s dream. They also do giveaways to local shows on their Twitter page, and their website offers Soundcloud previews to the albums they offer.