New York City is arguably most of the vibrant and dynamic music centers of the world. From the storied live music scene to countless producers and artists who call NYC home, its pedigree is unquestionable. Then there are the record stores. While many have come and gone, thankfully there are still a number within New York City that vinyl junkies and casual collectors can still dig and peruse.
Despite rising rents and the streaming revolution, these hardy locations stock mostly second-hand records each with their own story. (I always appreciate some notes or stickers from prior owners.) No matter the genre, there will always a store stocking a plentiful array of selection. After stomping the streets over the past few years searching for records, here are my 6 favorite records stores in NYC (especially for House, Techno and Disco).
Opened in 1996 by notorious record dealer Isaac Kosman, A1 records represents one of the few notable record stores still left in Manhattan. They always keep a plentiful stock of second-hand dancefloor friendly records. Legendary DJs such as Ron Morelli of L.I.E.S., Eric Duncan, Thomas Bullock, Daniel Wang and even David Mancuso have helped to steer the inventory and selection over the years. A1 Records is a required stop for any record collector hoping to capture the taste of N.Y.C’s vibrant dancefloor scene from the comfort of the East Village.
Brooklyn Record Exchange
This fine establishment is the reincarnation of the storied Co-Op 87. Founders, Mike Hunchback and Ben Steidel, joined forces with Brooklyn record label Mexican Summer to create a beautiful wood paneled space for a wide variety of genres to flourish. Located in the same building as Elsewhere, this compound in Bushwick influences what people listen to for all hours of the day. Stocking a wide variety of new/used records along with books, zines and more, Brooklyn Record Exchange should be a staple for anyone living in or visiting New York.
Brooklyn based record store, Human Heads, stocks a wide range of genres such Classic rock, punk, metal, jazz, latin and more. Owners Travis Klein and his friend Steve Smith surely stock nearly 5,000 records in their Bushwick enclave. Their standout selection is finely curated Latin, Soul, Reggae 45s. Good luck finding these on Spotify. Despite their penchant for 45s, they keep a deep and frankly under-appreciated selection of House and Disco 12inches. Human Heads stands out in particular for the relaxed environment of the store. No pretension or judgement, just great music and great selection.
The Thing is definitely the most mysterious and eclectic store on this list. Split between a general thrift store with furniture and knick-knacks and a library of thousands records floor to ceiling in the basement, The Thing is a cornucopia giving trinkets a second life. Commitment is required and voyages are not for the faint of heart. Nothing is categorized by either genre or alphabet and digging will leave fingers covered in dust. But one cannot separate how these factors feed into the novelty, akin to how an archeologist feels during a dig. This shop is owned by Isaac Kosman, same owner as A1 Records. So leftover inventory from A1 is shipped over to The Thing for the serious hobbyists and collectors to pick through. Apparently the stock used to include many hidden gems but fine purveyors have already picked it clean. But that should still not dissuade any adventurous soul, as some DJs today in NYC today such as Turtle Bugg still attest that quality records can be found.
Superior Elevation Records
This Bushwick based located opened up their doors in 2015 and is run by a husband and wife pair, Tom and Ellen Noble. Despite being located below street level, light still pours in through translucent glass wall and fills the voluminous space. The aesthetic of the store is clean and minimal, a stark contrast to others on the list, but doesn’t sacrifice character in the process. One would be hard pressed to not find something here that tickles their fancy, all-while rich tunes stream out of their sound system.
About the Creator
A young wench with a bad leg. My strongest attribute is my sense of smell, my weakest is direction. I've kissed a frog, climbed Mt. Everest, rolled myself in a carpet and been stepped on by Mike Tyson. Peanut butter and Hot Dogs is comfort
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