Inside Rough Trade in Williamsburg
Whether you’re trying to amass the greatest vinyl library in NYC, looking for a specific gem that your mother used to play for you, or trying to find your favorite artist’s newest record, we’ve got you covered. We’ve sorted through NYC’s most talked about record stores and selected our favorites based on originality and why they stand out.
1. Earwax Records: Survived being bullied around by gentrification
Earwax Records is a small but feisty record shop in Williamsburg that has had to move several times due to increasing rents. They’re known for having a plentiful ambient and electro selection, but also lots of afrobeat and Brazilian funk–truly a place for musical discovery. Watch Fabio – Earwax Records, Williamsburg Amoeblog interview to hear the owner complain about gentrification over a great soundtrack.
2. Halcyon: Cool history and Brooklyn staple record shop
Located in DUMBO and paired with an art gallery and a design boutique, Halcyon has origins that speak to a Brooklyn that is very different from the one that we know today. Founder Shawn Schwartz opened the first Halcyon in 1999 with the idea of recreating the vibe of the “record salons” he would host for his friends in his nearby Cobble Hill home. There was a bar with coffee, beer, and wine paired with a cozy lounge with a rotating decor. Once called “The Beating Heart of NYC’s Underground” by Time Out New York’s 2001 Clubs edition, Halcyon has adapted to its new setting but has maintained what Schwartz set out to do: create a comfortable place for people to find cool music. Self-proclaimed, “Brooklyn’s top purveyor of underground electronic dance music vinyl records- real DJs serving real music to real people since ’99.”
3. A1 Records: New stuff daily
We love A1 Records in the East Village because every visit is different. They bring in and ship out vintage records daily, so the selection is never static or repetitive. No one is calling A1 Records “spacious,” but the quantity of music form all around the world in such a small space os less daunting with a staff that really knows their stuff and wants to help you out.
4. Stranded Records: Good quality high-end collectibles
Stranded Records of the East Village has a wide variety of merchandise spanning genres and prices. With a huge selection of Jazz, Soul, Rock, Funk, Disco, Rap, House with stuff from Africa to Brazil to Latin America the Caribbean and all over, what owner Jonathan Sklute is best known for are the more expensive records. The variety at Stranded Records extends to their collection of rarities in tip-top collectable condition. If that’s not your thing though, there are also dollar crates to sift through for some great finds.
5. The Thing: Second hand store, no labeling, no prices
The Thing is a second hand shop in Greenpoint with a ground floor full of odds and ends that doesn’t promise much. The basement, however, is lyrical manifestation of every record-hunter’s dreams. Warning: be ready to hunt. The the 130,000 records crammed onto shelves are by no means organized; the owner, Larry Fisher, acquires them by any means necessary and packs them into the basement of his shop or in the overflow crates on the ground floor. Take a day to explore down here, bring a pile of whatever you might find that pleases you, and bring it to the cashier who will look at your pile, and estimate a fair price.
6. Human Head Records: Quirky, oldies
Even before entering Human Head Records you’ll probably notice the two mannequin heads rotating on turn tables in the window and you will already have a pretty good idea about the place. The owner, originally from Wisconsin, brought a trailer full of 3,000 records to Bushwick when the shop opened, setting himself a standard of carrying records (mostly classic rock/oldies) that are typically hard to come by in NYC. The vinyls are separated by genre and price, boasting lots of classic, indie, and alternative rock, some jazz, soul, and others. Collectibles and low-budget gems alike, vinyl enthusiasts are bound to find something valuable at one of the quirkiest record shops in NYC.
7. Black Gold: Best decor
8. Rough Trade: Music venue, too
9. Co-Op 87: Smallie but goodie
10. Academy Records: Classically curated
Academy Records has been around for ages and is seen as the well-respected ancient that hasn’t changed much since 1977. Although you can find oldies and classic rock here, the Flatiron location is known for an extensive collection of classical music. The feel is definitely old-school record store bumming and you’re welcome to spend hours browsing here.
11. Turntable Lab (East Village)
Turntable Lab on the Lower East Side is an indie-music-lover’s heaven. It’s collection is curated to a T and varied from indie rock, house, hip-hop, downtempo, to electro. Don’t be surprised if you bump into well-known DJs and the “important” people in the music production industry browsing next to you. Warning: Turntable is a bit pricey, but such an appealing space that it’s worth even just the visit.