Atlanta is a city blessed with an incredibly diverse music scene and a surprisingly sizable amount of classic record shops. We asked you on Twitter about your favorite record stores, then we set out a little treasure hunt for the best places to buy vinyl around the city and we found that just about every shop has something unique to offer.
The first stop on our hunt landed us at Records Galore right in the center of Clarkston. The tiny little shop opened in 1981 and was, until his passing in December of last year, owned by Mike Bell. If you’re looking the nostalgic vibe of an uncompromised old record shop, this store should definitely be on your bucket list. They carry tons of used country, rock, and jazz and at great sellin’ prices.
Next on our list was a little ditty called Book Nook in North Druid Hills, open since 1973. The great thing about this place is that it’s sort of an all-in-one for great used books, comic, movies, and music. Their collection of vinyl isn’t too extensive, but if you’re one of those people who enjoy the chase or stumbling across unexpected little miracles while you browse, this place should certainly be on your radar.
The next X on our map brought us to Ella Guru Records in Decatur off Lavista. Ella Guru was originally founded in Vista Grove by Don Radcliffe in the late ’90’s and has relocated twice, finally bringing him to his newest space in November 2012. The store sells 100% used vinyl in a variety of genres in the best conditions they can find and Don is a super personable and very knowledgable guy who seems to truly enjoy talking shop with his customers; a gentleman and a scholar!
The most recent shop on the vinyl scene is Sunbrimmer Records in Avondale Estates. Run by a friendly, well-versed ex-audio-engineer by the name of Mike Tyson, the sleek new store opened in March of this year and is an inviting, modern take on record stores that seems to embrace the reinvigoration of vinyl fever. They sell high-quality records, both new and used, in a bevy of genres. Mike says he has a few awesome events and ideas under wraps right now, so make sure you keep your eyes on this place for a fresh take on vinyl.
Wuxtry Records in Druid Hills opened in 1978 after its sister location in Athens in ’76. In 2010, they were featured on Rolling Stones’ Best Records Stores in the USA and we can definitely see why. Wuxtry is the oldest continuously operating record store chain in the entire state and that’s because they’re dedicated to the music. They know their stuff, they know their audience, and they’re not looking for your approval.
Don’t let the name fool you. Decatur CD sells much more than just compact discs; they offer a wonderful modicum of vinyl: new, used, local, collectibles, you name it. Their official slogan ought to be “we got stuff and we can get you stuff”, as they make a fantastic effort to provide what they know people want and if there’s something you’re looking for that you can’t find, Decatur CD will go the distance to find it for you. They’re a full catalog shop with loads of CDs, cassettes, music-related movies, and vinyl and the warm, welcoming atmosphere is bar none.
Full Moon Records is one of those little-known delights in Atlanta’s Candler Park area. Parking in the area is a bit of a drag, especially on the weekend, but Full Moon’s inexpensive collection of of news & used records, CDs, and tapes is lovingly curated by owner Ted Selke. Protip: Contrary to their posted hours according to Google, Full Moon Records is only open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We suggest going on a Thursday to avoid most of the crowds.
Wax n’ Facts is basically one big antique store for records. The stale smell of once-loved, waiting-to-be-rediscovered vinyl and cardboard fill the air and remind us why we love vinyl so much in the first place. This place is embodies all of our romantic notions of unearthing hidden gems like
the dirty little hipsters we are we’re John Cusack in High Fidelity. We definitely recommend hitting Wax n’ Facts anytime you’re on your own vinyl treasure hunt. They have a big, fantastic selection of used records and the staff are pleasant and likely educated on whatever it is you’re looking for.
Perhaps the most well known of the record shops in our fair city, Criminal Records has become a staple of Atlanta music culture; and rightfully so! Criminal is a big space with a substantial amount of racks dedicated to vinyl, as well as CDs, comics, magazines, action figures, shirts, and tons more. Creative Loafing has called them “the king of Atlanta independent media retail” and we think that’s the most fitting description we can think of. Fun fact: owner Eric Levin co-founded Record Store Day in 2007.
This is the just about the tiniest store we’ve probably ever set foot in. Records and equipment line the walls and floors, old school rap and hip-hop music fill the air. This shop’s collection showcases some of the finest vinyl from rap, hip-hop, EDM and house music, making it a niche among record stores in Atlanta. Nearly every other store we hit covers primarily classic rock and jazz, as this is where the largest portion of record purveyors lie, but Beatlab refuses to conform to your standards. It’s a little covert, stowed away on the back of the Junkman’s Daughter plaza in Little 5 Points, but it’s basically a 100% pay-off once you find it.
Fantasyland Records in Buckhead is absolutely the largest of the shops we hit in Atlanta. Their selection is enormous and includes records, CDs, and cassettes in nearly any genre you can think of, new and used. Fantastic old posters (also for sale!) are plastered across the walls and odd knick-knacks are like little surprises between the stacks. Opened in 1976, Fantasyland has stood the test of time and remained a haven for record-lovers of all types. If you can’t find it anywhere else, chances are Fantasyland has it just by sheer volume.
Last, but absolutely not least, is Sweet Melissa Records in Marietta’s South Park Square. If you’re willing to go a little OTP, you definitely won’t be disappointed. Tucked away in the back of an antique store, Sweet Melissa carries a fantastic selection of vinyl: new, used, rare, signed, and all in between. The best thing about this place is its grading system — each record is evaluated and graded on a 1-10 scale of its condition — and, of course, the Dollar Bins that stack just outside the front door. The owners, Jim and Melissa Kumpe, are the absolute sweetest people I’ve met in a shop. They also sell wonderfully high-end equipment on site and in their nearby sister store, The Audio Company, where they collect, display, and sell beautiful setups for the pinnacle of audiophiles.
Which of these shops is on your frequent flyer card? Or are we missing your favorite record store? Let us know in the comments below.