For those who share this need, I’ve put together a list of awesome local record stores, two of which were mentioned in Rolling Stones’ Best Record Stores in the United States. Many of these stores have a long history in the Twin Cities and others serve as citadels of vinyl and genre organs.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive. So if a shop dear to you isn’t mentioned, be sure to say something about it in the comments below.
No. 1: Cheapo Records
1300 West Lake Street | Minneapolis
Before I ever used iTunes or Amazon to search for music, I went to Cheapo. It has everything: CDs, DVDs, vinyl, cassettes and even VHS. It was here that I found my way into ambient music with Brian Eno and into Afrobeat with Fela Kuti. Built like a warehouse, Cheapo is repository for local, popular and obscure music across genres. Open until midnight, these stores are great to peruse, as you’re sure to find something unique.
No. 2: Fifth Element
2411 Hennepin Avenue South | Minneapolis
If you love hip-hop and live near the Twin Cities, this is your store. No questions. None. Fifth Element is the face of record label Rhymesayers — think Brother Ali, Atmosphere. It offers CDs, vinyl, specialty items and clothing. It also hosts events every Thursday such as classes for aspiring DJs and MCs and open mics for those who want to show their vocal or beat-forging talent. If you want to get into Minneapolis hip-hop, Fifth Element is where you need to be.
No. 3: The Electric Fetus
2000 4th Avenue South | Minneapolis
Inseminated in 1968, the Electric Fetus has grown from a hobby shop to a nearly a city block, becoming a local music organ and perhaps the most iconic of all Twin Cities record shops. It stocks some 75,000 titles, consisting of used and new LPs, CDs, DVDs and cassettes. Emphasizing local music, the Electric Fetus features a local artist every month and offers their work at a discount in a program called MinnEconomy, a win/win for both the artist and local music lovers. Rolling Stone placed the Fetus on its list of the best record stores in the country.
No. 4: Treehouse Records
2557 Lyndale Avenue South | Minneapolis
On the corner of Lyndale and 26th Street, Treehouse Records is built on history. Prior to becoming Treehouse in 2001, it was Oarl Folkjokeopus: the center of Minneapolis’ alternative and punk scene in the ’70s and ’80s. Treehouse, which is much easier to pronounce, retains its pedigree as a standard record store for those who love vinyl, obscure music and local legends such as the Replacements and Husker Du.
No. 5: Extreme Noise
407 West Lake Street | Minneapolis
Punk rock means different things to different people. To some it means mohawks, to others it’s a lifestyle, something sort of freestyle, in the veins of Aguie Marsh. And it’s the latter that characterizes Extreme Noise. The punk rock co-op is run by 30 volunteers, who give their time for music, who you will want to talk to when it comes to punk, hardcore, metal, indie, emo and grindcore . The store has been around for 16 years and has helped sustain the local punk scene as a bastion to do-it-yourself (DIY) music.
No. 6: Hymie’s
3820 East Lake Street | Minneapolis
Voted one of the top record stores in the country by Rolling Stone Magazine, Hymie’s is a family run store dedicated to vinyl. It boasts a deep catalog of over 100,000 used and new records and a welcoming atmosphere complete with the store dog named Irene. If you want to get into vinyl, this is the place to go. And a great place to start is with Hymie’s sidewalk sale, at which you can find hundreds of records priced at 50 cents a pop. Not even iTunes can complete with that.
No. 7: Down in the Valley
8020 Highway 55 | Minneapolis
Along with new and used vinyl and CDs, these stores have almost everything else related to music culture — DVDs, T- shirts, incense, jewelry, books, lava lamps, bobbleheads, posters and more. They sell tickets to shows and are a fashion alternative for those who love dreadlocks and anything lined with dancing rainbow bears.
No. 8: Roadrunner Records
4304 Nicollet Avenue South | Minneapolis
Roadrunner Records specializes in used records. This is a great place to go if you want to expand your collection (or start one) on the cheap; It has stacks of records on sale for 50 cents all the time. Roadrunner stocks mainly indie, classic rock and jazz records. For vinyl , there aren’t many better deals around.
No. 9: Shuga Records
165 13th Avenue North East | Minneapolis
Shuga Records is the place to buy vinyl north of the Mississippi. The owner, Adam “Shuga Rose” Rosen, who runs the store with his wife, has an enormous collection of vinyl records and one of the largest online shops in the world. Rosen has a collection of some 400,000 records, the quality of each he inspects himself. For rare, quality stuff, check out Shuga records.
No. 10: Vital
3 West 15th Street | Minneapolis
For those into techno music and all aspects of DJ-ing, this is your store. Vital has a deep catalog of everything electronic, from house to hip-hop. It focuses on vinyl but also stocks CDs. Alongside music, Vital has everything you need to DJ; it sells, rents and repairs turntables, mixers, lights and other equipment. You can buy tickets to up-coming shows and clothing to outfit yourself in the latest DJ fashions. If you’re into the bleeps and bloops, check out Vital.
Jonathon Sharp is an intern at WCCO.com.