Everybody is going crazy for vinyl. It isn’t a new craze by all means but with the recent boom in sales worldwide, we’re going to start seeing a lot more of it. You can’t walk anywhere these days without being confronted by either a record store or a shop that has cheap, old records outside and a line up around the block to boot. It’s no longer limited to your niche hipster friend, who may or may not ride a penny-farthing around town and look like someone fresh from the set of Portlandia. It’s about you- the normal, polite Canadian riding the streetcar to work with your Timmy’s in hand. You’re the target market for all these vinyl pushers cause you’ll stick around for decades to come while the hipsters are off making cheese in their living rooms. Even if you aren’t into them and don’t really like to follow trends (you’re the ‘’proto-hipster’’ btw), they make a great, super thoughtful gift for anyone that is. So in light of all this I thought I’d list some of my picks for this cities best record stores in a click-bait article I’ll hate myself for writing in years to come.
(IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)
Rotate This (186 Ossington Ave)
Mainly because it’s right down the road from me (now it’s moved) and is where I bought my first records after I arrived in the city. Aside from the concert tickets you can buy there, the space is meant for one thing and one thing only; the purchase of vinyl. It has been a Mecca for indie rock fans since the mid-nineties and following it’s recent move to the Ossington strip things are only looking up.
Sonic Boom (215 Spadina Ave)
Has to be included on this list. Canada’s largest independent record store, the sprawling Spadina location offers two floors of new and used vinyl of all genres, books, movies, cds, record players and it even has a space downstairs for events (like the cinema club). If you want to find a record in this city make sure you check here before giving up your search.
June Records (662 College Street)
This College St store hasn’t been open as long as other entries on this list but it definitely deserves its place amongst the city’s best. With a great layout, a comprehensive collection of new and used vinyl, a performance space in the back, studio space for rent and audio equipment available to buy on site. June offers it all. Keep an eye out for their weekly arrivals post on their blog.
Kops Records (582 Bloor West, 1811 Danforth Ave , 229 Queen St West)
Kops does one thing, vinyl, and they do it really well. A Toronto institution with three locations- Queen West, The Danforth and Bloor West, this store has been around for over 40 years and has the largest selection of new & used vinyl in the city across these three locations. A policy of near mint condition used vinyl only, means that anything you pick up in any location (bargain bin or not) is going to be worth the money… you might want to ask their staff for their opinions on any records before purchase though (seriously nice people).
The inclusion of this Yonge St staple when writing about Toronto record stores is a given. It’s the place Drake bought his first turntables, the place Deadmau5 released his first record and it’s been slingin’ records to vinyl junkies in the city for over 25+ years. Time to visit the original Yonge St location is running out though as they are currently in the process of moving to a new Spadina location (just north of Sonic Boom). Get yourself down there, see some of this city’s history and buy a cool record before they move.
As I said before this list is in no particular order but love needs to go out to Loon Records (College St), Cosmos Records (Queen St West), Zoinks Music & Books (Bloor St West) and Grasshopper Records (Dundas West).
There are a lot of great record stores that are independently run in this city. To mention them all in one article is a difficult task I will not attempt and to pick out one as a favourite would be an act of stupidity. The most important thing about this worldwide ‘’vinyl revival’’ is the solidity of it all. In our crazy capitalist throwaway world the resurgence of something long thought to be dead, a piece of heated plastic that can survive generations, is a beautiful thing. What’s even cooler is how the industry behind all of those records is booming beyond belief, revolutionising itself and creating jobs in the process. So with spring around the corner (I promise it is), I suggest you keep this list aside for the warmer days ahead and maybe pay a visit to some of these stores.