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For many who grew up with the LP record, CDs and downloadable music are simply not the same thing. Younger audiophiles have also discovered the arguably superior sound of the LP and records have become a collector’s item. And not just rock’n'roll: jazz, classical music, Broadway musicals and spoken word were all immortalized for the turntable. Nowadays, serious collectors scour antique shops, used book stores and specialty stores to get their vinyl fix. Here are a few happy hunting grounds in San Francisco’s South Bay.
1322 El Camino Real
Redwood City, CA 94063
The Recordman boasts an inventory of over 1,000 pieces — LPs, 45s, 78s, album sleeves and books about records. This shop insists that if it can’t find a record, it probably doesn’t exist. Serious collectors will want to make a pilgrimage to this shop which, in addition to records, has thousands of pieces of sheet music and even vintage reel-to-reel tapes. Savvy collectors will be sure to know what they are looking for and its value, as prices are often negotiated on the spot.
320 Cedar St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Metavinyl is a small but mighty old fashioned record store. As you walk in, you will feel as if you have stepped through a time tunnel back into the 1970s. But don’t let that fool you into thinking the shop sells only used and antique vinyl. Metavinyl is known for having an excellent selection of new releases. Customers also report that they often find excellent bargains. Don’t neglect to explore the $1 bin for hidden treasures.
980 S. Bascom Ave.
San Jose, CA 95128
Streetlight Records has a huge mostly-used inventory of not just LPs, but DVDs, CDs and a lot of memorabilia. It is a very successful shop with two additional locations in San Francisco and Santa Cruz, but many customers like the San Jose store the best. Streetlight is an excellent place to begin if you a new collector. The excellent organization will help you learn the ropes and know what’s what. Streetlight also features in-store events that are worth keeping an eye on.
Vinyl Solution Records
151 W. 25th Ave.
San Mateo, CA 94403
In San Mateo, you can check out the 5,000-square-foot Vinyl Solution Records. Owner Tommy Toonz has been a collector himself since childhood, and opened the store in 1984. He’s been behind the counter for over two decades, so you can bet he knows his stuff. This shop handles every kind of music-related media including records, CDs, DVDs and videos as well as musical instruments and equipment, posters and just about anything else you can think of. Tommy will also pay cash or trade for your used stuff.
317 Castro St.
Mountain View, CA 94041
Bookbuyers differs from the other stores on this list because it is primarily a bookstore. This much-beloved Mountain View tradition draws fans from all over the United States who often report it as a “favorite bookstore.” But it also boasts a remarkable collection of vinyl records as well as CDs and DVDs. You may not find the most obscure collector’s items here, but its beautiful location and the added attraction of books make Bookbuyers a worthy destination. Sometimes you can find unexpected bargains.
Charles Kruger is well known in the Bay area as “The Storming Bohemian” ever since he entered the Bay Area cultural scene in the summer of 2009, attending 90 cultural events in 90 days and blogging about it. This project was successful enough to warrant a mention in The New York Times. His coverage of Bay area theatre can be found at Examiner.com.