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Best U.S. Cities for Vinyl Lovers

Seven cities are tops for record stores

By Bonnie Burch on August 12, 2015

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Bonnie Burch

More than a decade ago, the vinyl record, one of the oldest methods of playing recorded music, was hanging on the boxing ring ropes waiting for a final knock out.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the graveyard. Vinyl made a comeback. 

With vinyl sales increasing every year since 2007 when the trend began and more manufacturers opening pressing plants to keep up with demand, the importance of independent record stores has also hit a rebirth.

“Vinyl is the life blood of the record store,” says Doyle Davis, who co-owns Grimey’s New and Pre-loved Music and Grimey’s Too, both in Nashville, Tenn., along with Mike Grimes.

Audiophiles say that vinyl produces a richer, clearer sound than can be found with more recent technology such as compact discs, MP3s and streaming services.

Plus, putting the needle down and flipping the record over to Side B makes the listener more of an active participant in the music than just pressing play and walking away.

“It’s an affordable art and something that’s very tactile,” Davis says.

Many vinyl lovers didn’t grow up in homes with turntables as younger generations have taken up the revival.

Here are seven U.S. cities where the collector can feel right at home on National Vinyl Record Day, which is August 12:

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jackpotrecords.com

This hip, northwestern city ranks highest for the most record stores per capita in the country, according to real estate website Redfin. Music Millennium has been here for 40 years and is a must-visit, but also check out Jackpot Records and Exiled Records.

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vinylperk.com

Chapel Hill/Durham, NC

A surprising No. 2 in the Redfin poll considering its small-town size of under 60,000 people, Chapel Hill record stores are bolstered by a growing hipster vibe among the college kids. For fresh-brewed coffee as well try Vinyl Perk or visit CD Alley.

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Sarah V. / ConcertManic.com

The vinyl lovers’ dream is to have an entire week to venture among the many Big Apple record stores. It’s hard to choose but among the best bets are Other Music, Generation Records and Academy Records.

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amoeba.com

Los Angeles, CA

With the city the undisputed champion of the entertainment industry, no wonder L.A. has a fertile record store scene. Amoeba Music in Hollywood bills itself as “the world’s largest independent record store.”

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Photo by Ina

Chicago, IL

Jazz and blues enthusiasts make up a good portion of vinyl fans. For them, Jazz Record Mart advertises that it has the world’s largest collection of jazz and blues records in any store. Of course, the city is also home to the Chicago Blues Festival. In addition, other famous stores include Dusty Groove, Dave’s Records and Laurie’s Planet of Sound.

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Courtesy of Jan Tik under a CC 4.0 license.

Austin, TX

This southern city has become the hot new area for the indie rock scene thanks mostly to the annual South by Southwest festivals. Waterloo Records is the undisputed king, but also try Breakaway Records and Friends of Sound.

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Bonnie Burch

Minneapolis, MN

Bob Dylan’s hometown is a great place to find new and used records among a multitude of shops with interesting names. There’s Electric Fetus, Hymie’s Vintage Records, Fifth Element and Treehouse Records.

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