By Madison Weber ’23, Staff Writer and Social Media Editor
It’s undeniable that vinyl records are coming back; with the number of vinyl sold in the first six months of 2021 up 108% from the first six months of 2020 and vinyl records officially bringing in more money than CDs for the first time in 34 years in 2020.
Whether you love spending hours digging through the crates, or just love having a few token pieces in your collection, Rochester actually happens to be home to several hidden and not-so-hidden gems for getting your hands on some of your favorite albums.
A Rochester classic, House of Guitars has been sitting at 645 Titus Ave. since 1964. If you’re looking for a true, nostalgic feeling while you’re flipping through boxes then this is the place for you. It feels like you’re walking right into the original days of vinyl. From the celebrity signatures on the wall, to the decade old records lining the selves. But, word from the wise, don’t plan on just dropping in. Maybe block out a few hours one afternoon and bring your friends to see what you can find.
They opened in 1964, and they probably still have things in the store that were there that very day. At the House of Guitars, nothing leaves the store unless it’s in the arms of a customer. But, that leads to a unique and diverse collection where you really never know what long sought after record you’re going to find.
They do organize roughly by genre and alphabetically, but if you don’t find something where it should be, keep looking. Don’t be afraid to ask an employee to help you find something specific! If you’re willing to dig a little deeper, you’ll definitely find something you love. It may not even be what you came in looking for, but they definitely have something for everyone. They also sell merchandise, instruments, music memorabilia, tickets to local shows, CDs and so much more.
Admittedly a personal favorite and another Rochester classic at 3 1/3 Rockwood St., it’s a unique and eclectic mixture of all things music and pop culture that opened in 1975. Around the edges of the room are thousands of older vinyls, with the middle of the room dedicated to more modern and/or popular releases.
The Record Archive does a great job of organizing by genre and alphabetically; whether it be rock, indie, blues, hip-hop, the classics and so much more. One of the cool things about the Record Archive is that they actually let you play the vinyl on one of their record players in-store prior to buying. This can be super helpful especially when buying older records to check for warping or skipping.
They have a great selection of newer vinyls, and they make them super easy to find. And if you want something more rare or unique, there’s a good chance they have that too. Because they keep things super organized, most of their used and older vinyls stay in great condition! There’s something special about buying something pre-loved. Make sure to check out their bargain section to see what albums you can find to even out your collection.
On top of records they have a great selection of posters, pins, vintage fashion, incense, homeware, merchandise, CDs, knick-knacks, and even have an in-house bar where they hold events and concerts.
Opening in 2011, Needledrop is newer to the music scene in Rochester, but don’t mistake that for a lack of expertise. Housed at 304 Gregory St., the store is home to a wide array of genres and artists. Everything from hip-hop, metal, indie, new age, classical and much more. Out of everyone on this list, this store probably has the best selection of modern indie and modern smaller bands.
If you’re looking for something obscure that no one else will have or looking to buy something you’ve never heard of, Needledrop is the place to go. But, don’t let that fool you, they also have a solid selection of more popular and mainstream releases. It doesn’t have to break the bank to shop here, as their selection ranges from brand new and in demand, to older and pre-loved (yet still good) pieces going for $1, $5, and $8.
Out of everyone on this list, their pricing seemed the most affordable, especially for someone trying to bulk up a collection. And when considering they stock a large selection of very affordable LPs that are from smaller bands and printed in smaller releases. They organize based on if the vinyls are new or used, and then alphabetize and separate by genre from there. This store may be smaller than the others, but it is mighty. Every inch of the inside is packed with discs waiting to be spun.
It may seem easier to go online and order off Amazon or some larger chain store, but buying your vinyl in person can go a long way in supporting local small businesses while also growing your collection. These small businesses rely on foot traffic to stay open, and they often have older additions or titles that can be hard to find elsewhere. Plus, it’s way more fun when you never know what you’re going to find.