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Top 10 best places to buy vinyl in the Twin Cities

Top 10 best places to buy vinyl in the Twin Cities
Photo By Erik Hess

Within the sagging music industry, vinyl sales represent a rare sign of growth during the past few years, and that trend is healthy in the Twin Cities. Here, a plethora of independent record stores meet the local music community's demand for records -- and then some. They stock Record Store Day exclusives, host numerous in-store performances from local acts, and staff their stores with intelligent folks -- some even contribute to Gimme Noise -- who can advise during a leisurely afternoon of flipping through the endless racks of records.

For those just starting a vinyl collection, hardcore collectors, and everyone in between, here are the 10 best places to buy vinyl in the Twin Cities.

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Top 10 best places to buy vinyl in the Twin Cities
Photo By Erik Hess

10. Know Name Records
6009 Portland Ave., Minneapolis

While students at the U of M might miss Know Name's presence on campus, the long-standing Portland Avenue location has been in the business of selling records for over 35 years, and the shop consistently delivers music fans a decent selection of both new and used vinyl. They also actively buy used LPs, so their selection of classic, original pressings is frequently surprising and rewarding for the collectors out there.

Top 10 best places to buy vinyl in the Twin Cities
Photo By Erik Hess

9. Extreme Noise Records
407 W. Lake St., Minneapolis

This punk-focused record shop on Lake Street has sold vinyl to hardcore fans in the area for almost two decades. It's a co-op run entirely by volunteers, with all of the profits from sales reinvested back into the store and the local music community. That unbridled DIY spirit permeates the shop as well as their well-chosen inventory of vinyl, featuring plenty of punk acts that aren't represented in other shops. Extreme Noise also has many live (and loud) performances within their intimate shop, giving area music fans even more reason to stop in.

Top 10 best places to buy vinyl in the Twin Cities
Photo By Erik Hess

8. Down In The Valley
8020 Olson Memorial Hwy., Golden Valley

While technically not in the Twin Cities proper, it would be impossible to not include this 41-year-old suburban record shop in this list. In addition to their familiar Golden Valley location, Down In the Valley has also branched out to Maple Grove and Crystal, servicing the music needs of those areas as well. Their new and used vinyl selections are well-curated, and if they don't carry an LP you are looking for, they will certainly try to special order you a copy.

Top 10 best places to buy vinyl in the Twin Cities
Photo By Erik Hess

7. Fifth Element
2411 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis

Fifth Element is a haven for Twin Cities hip-hop fans, providing new vinyl pressings of hot records of the moment, as well as classics from back in the day. The shop also serves as the official Rhymesayers retail store, so you know they'll have plenty of vinyl copies of Brother Ali, P.O.S., and Atmosphere's records, as well as related merch. Tthey also stock plenty of records from other hip-hop artists who help make the scene flourish, while also regularly hosting signings and intimate in-store performances from both local and national rap acts.

 

Top 10 best places to buy vinyl in the Twin Cities
Photo By Erik Hess

6. Eclipse Records
381 Wabasha St. N., St. Paul

After Eclipse Records closed their University Avenue location, the only independent record store in St. Paul was thankfully resurrected in 2011 at their new location on Wabasha Street, conveniently affiliated with the neighboring Amsterdam Bar and Hall right next door. The used vinyl at Eclipse is consistently updated with new-found gems, and their new record selection is well-chosen and affordable. Eclipse is also the lone St. Paul ticket outlet for First Avenue shows. The shop is run by true music lovers, and their Facebook page continuously boasts a tempting 'Record of the Day,' which is typically a discounted jewel that would make a great addition to any collection.

Top 10 best places to buy vinyl in the Twin Cities
Photo By Erik Hess

5. Roadrunner Records
4304 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis

Roadrunner has one of the strongest rare and vintage LP collections in the Twin Cities, with all genres from every musical era represented. The intimate shop's staff can tell you if a copy is a first-pressing as well as the listening quality of the vinyl itself, and their used copies are judiciously priced. While they focus on classic LPs at Roadrunner, their expertly curated new vinyl sits proudly alongside the legendary records that line the walls of the shop. Roadrunner boasts that they provide "Unusual usual music for unusual usual people," and that philosophy rings true each time you step inside.

Top 10 best places to buy vinyl in the Twin Cities
Photo By Erik Hess

4. Cheapo Records
1300 W. Lake St., Minneapolis

Cheapo has been the undisputed music king of Uptown for years now, and the massive shop quite simply has more records with more space than any other place in town. While the sheer size of the Uptown store, as well as Cheapo's various area locations, might be a bit intimidating to fans who are used to smaller shops, their new and used vinyl selection is consistently top-notch and affordable. The place maintains an old-school vibe, with the endless racks of music getting the focus of the store rather than any unnecessary promotional bells and whistles. If you want to spend an afternoon getting lost within a glorious sea of vinyl, come to Cheapo and you'll find far too many records that you need to add to your collection.

 

Top 10 best places to buy vinyl in the Twin Cities
Photo By Erik Hess

3. Hymie's Vintage Records
3820 East Lake St., Minneapolis

Hymie's perfectly epitomizes the concept of a "mom and pop" record store simply because it's literally run by the husband-and-wife team of Dave and Laura Hoenack. That familial vibe courses through the entire space, with well-sorted used vinyl everywhere you turn and splendid in-store concerts. The records are priced right, with storewide sales taking place regularly, so you can leave with an armful of classics for under 20 bucks. The small shop also has plenty of in-store live performances to further strengthen the bond between Hymie's and the local music community. They also buy and trade vinyl there as well, so you can rid yourself of some albums while expanding your collection at the same time. Hymie's was Minneapolis's well-kept vinyl secret -- until Rolling Stone recognized the place as one of it's Top 25 record stores in America.

Top 10 best places to buy vinyl in the Twin Cities
Photo By Erik Hess

2. Treehouse Records
2557 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis

Treehouse Records continues the legendary tradition of its celebrated predecessor, Oar Folkjokeopus, which began selling records and unifying the thriving Twin Cities music community way back in 1972. Former Oarfolk manager Mark Trehus renamed the joint Treehouse when he took over in 2001, but the name change didn't affect the communal ethos of the place one bit. The new and used vinyl selection here is top-notch and cared for by a man who has made music his life. The staff is quite knowledgeable and friendly, and if they don't have the elusive LP that you're looking for they try and track down a copy for you. They also regularly have intimate in-store performances -- sometimes with pastries -- between their solid racks of records. The Minneapolis music scene wouldn't be what it is today without the legendary record shop on the corner of 26th and Lyndale, and thankfully Treehouse is still around to inform and influence another new batch of music fans while still catering faithfully to the old-school vinyl junkies.

Top 10 best places to buy vinyl in the Twin Cities
Photo By Erik Hess

1. The Electric Fetus
2000 4th Ave. S., Minneapolis

The Electric Fetus has provided area music fans exactly what they have been looking for since 1968, and those years of experience and expertise shines throughout their remarkable selection of new and used vinyl. Whether you're looking for a limited-edition pressing of the breakout band of the moment, or a first-issue classic to complete your collection, the Fetus has it all or will special-order it. They also frequently have intimate in-store live performances from popular local and national acts, many of whom are set to play sold-out venues in the city later that night.

Eric Huchinson playing an Electric Fetus in-store during Record Store Day 2012
Eric Huchinson playing an Electric Fetus in-store during Record Store Day 2012
Photo By Erik Hess

The Fetus consistently receives well-earned "best record store" accolades from national publications, who have gradually come to recognize what local music fans around these parts have known for a while now -- the Electric Fetus is an absolute marvel of a record store, and we are truly fortunate to have it here in Minneapolis (and Duluth and St. Cloud, too). Here's to another 45 years and beyond.


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