Vinyl isn’t dead. A new analog renaissance is happening in the city, with one-off shops combining vintage LPs with other urban perks, from listening rooms to free-form DJ performances to knickknacks and cappuccino. These nine buzz-worthy spots are putting a fresh spin on record hunting.
The Mixtape Shop
Don’t come sniffing around here for run-of-the-mill, Top 40 tunes: This Bed-Stuy business sells a carefully curated selection of disco, electronic, funk, house, soul, and world records. And you don’t have to judge an album just by its cover—there are three well-equipped listening stations where you can sample some tracks before deciding to buy. While you’re pampering your ears, you can also wet your whistle, since the store has a gourmet coffee bar as well. You may even stumble upon a special event in progress during your visit; live DJ performances and art exhibitions are often hosted. P.S.: If the store’s name sounds familiar, it’s because this cult favorite outfit used to exist strictly as an e-store. The brick-and-mortar locale, patrons are happy to report, boasts the same outstanding customer service, plus prices that are more than reasonable given the relative rarity of the music selection on hand.
1129 Bedford Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant
Tokyo Record Bar
Japan is famous for its jewel box–like record stores; this West Village hangout aims to bring some of that Far Eastern elegance home to us. Its stated “dedication to quality and obsession through food, music, and booze” is carried out in style: You can visit its 16-seat restaurant festooned with cherry blossoms for dinner and be treated to a full izakaya. In addition to choosing what to eat, you can also select a tune to be played from a lengthy list of songs; the resident DJ will spin it at some point in the evening. And there’s something here for true night owls, too. Drop by 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. and you’ll find a “free-form DJ” working the station, spinning anything from jazz and blues to reggae and hip hop.
127 MacDougal Street (between West 3rd and 4th Streets), Greenwich Village
Get ready, Prospect Heights: BierWax will be opening shortly in your hood. The venue, which developers exuberantly describe as “malted grains, water, yeast, and hops mixed with a pinch of 45s, a cup of boom-bap, and a heaping tablespoon of funk,” will be yet another fun multipurpose record store for locals and visitors alike. Not only will plenty of great tunes be on continuous tap, so will some slammin’ brews, including draught beers from breweries across Long Island and upstate New York. Wine snobs, rejoice: There will also be a modest selection of good vino. Expect to see plenty of fun and enriching events take place—the owners plan on hosting live DJ sets, parties for book releases, discussion panels on all sorts of current events, and more. Cool aside: BierWax was partly crowd-funded on Indiegogo, where it raised more than $35,000.
556 Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Heights
Rough Trade NYC
Cassette tapes whaaa? Yep, you’ll find those musical blasts from the past at this large and open-to-anything record store in Williamsburg. (It also sells a terrific assortment of popular books and movies.) Of course, a great selection of vinyl albums is available, too. The shop boasts half a dozen comfortable listening stations for your pleasure, all decked out in top-of-the-line Sonos equipment to help create a high-quality experience. Outstanding merch isn’t even Rough Trade’s main draw—this roomy venue is also a favorite performance site for many under-the-radar bands. While most of the artists who appear here are fairly low-key, you may find someone higher wattage if you hit it right. Add in an on-site photo booth, and it’s clear that this is anything other than your parents’ record store.
64 North 9th Street, Williamsburg
Get ready to start your treasure hunt! This Carroll Gardens outpost features an ever-changing lineup of vintage vinyl for sale. The store is constantly buying and selling individual records or entire collections at once. If you’re also a fan of old knickknacks, you’ve come to the right place: In addition to albums, Black Gold stocks a selection of whimsical antiques available for purchase (we’re talking taxidermy, globes, paintings, and much more). But that’s not where the offerings end. Visit and you can also enjoy a seriously awesome cup of coffee. The barista uses the store’s own famous Black Gold Brooklyn Blend, a roast that is rumored to be so sweet, no sugar is needed. More recently, a cold brew was added to the menu, and so far it’s been fetching rave reviews.
461 Court Street, Carroll Gardens
This is one of those funky businesses that contributes to Williamsburg’s ever-rising coolness quotient. Exposed cement-block walls echo the loud music that’s pumping as you enter the industrial-chic space. Inside, you’ll discover a sweet selection of albums, from rock and house to genres you may have never even heard of before—a little Afro-jazz, anyone? A listening station makes it easy to further explore your finds before you buy. Once you’ve found music that suits your taste, treat your taste buds to something yummy at the fully stocked bar. The helpful staff also offers handy services—bring in your damaged LPs, for instance, and they can unwarp them for you. Another cool option: DJ lessons from pros in the know. All classes include exclusive discounts on turntables, vinyl, and other essential equipment.
74 Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg
This East Village store may be small in stature, but it’s crammed full with distinctive albums from wide-ranging genres, including electronic, rock, funk, soul, and reggae. If you want to spin tunes for more than just your Billy Idol “Dancing by Myself” evenings at home, you’ve come to an unbeatable place: Turntable Lab is famed as a tech resource for professional DJs and DJ wannabes. You’ll find turntable bundles, phono furniture, speakers, headphones, and pretty much anything else you’ll need. There’s also a selection of clothing, all cool enough for your skateboarding nephew but grown-up enough for you to wear on weekends.
84 East 10th Street (between Third and Fourth Avenues), East Village
A simple string of lights and a small sign marks the spot on the corner of Knickerbocker and Jefferson, signaling that you won’t be in for a garish, hard-sell environment. Instead, tables and bins full of albums are largely unmarked; blind rummaging is simply part of the adventure. While this isn’t a discount store per se, some lucky shoppers have stumbled on albums priced as low as a buck. If your literary preferences are as bold as your musical ones, you’re in luck: Vinyl Fantasy also specializes in comic books.
194 Knickerbocker Avenue, Bushwick
Romance meets records at this Long Island City coffee destination. Housed in a building dating back to the 19th century, Sweetleaf is furnished with antique statues and paintings brought over all the way from Paris. Other lovely vintage touches abound—the walls and ceiling sport their original tin from the late 1800s. Go on and take a seat: There are plenty of them throughout the café, either by the sunlit front windows or the record room. Yes, you got that right. In the back of the store there’s a listening room, with a turntable and several hundred albums to choose from. But there’s more than the sound of music here. A bakery counter offers tempting diet spoilers such as chocolate almond croissants, pumpkin doughnut holes, and cakes made in-house—and there’s a coffee station where you can wash down your treat with Vietnamese-style cold brews, macchiatos, or other barista-made favorites.
10-93 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City