Newsflash: the album is dying, but the vinyl is gaining a whole new life. A relic of the pre–Spotify era when DJing meant more than just queuing a playlist, the record represents our wildest Gen Z fears—commitment, authenticity, and fragility. And yet, we can’t stop buying them. In 2018, vinyl sales increased by 12.6 percent, while tangible album sales plummeted by more than triple that. With those statistics, it feels like everyone and their trendy little sister is getting in on this vintage trend. And you can, too, by building a vinyl collection that has everything the music section at Urban Outfitter’s doesn’t: hidden classics, genuine collectibles, and even the spare cassette tape.
Whether you’re itching to live out an Empire Records–themed fantasy or put the latest Phoenix release on the needle, these stores have you covered. These institutions of all things throwback are the best record stores in Philadelphia:
Think of Creep Records as the blink–182 of record stores—punk rock at heart, but welcoming enough for even your most Top 40–oriented friend to enjoy. Part record store, part smoke shop, and part makeshift concert hall, this Northern Liberties mainstay takes the concept of a record store and makes it communal. “I want to own a record store I’d want to hang out in,” when asked why Creep Records extends past its utilitarian definition. Yes, you’ll find a fair share of subversive underground punk records and collectible editions of indie classics, but you’ll also find a space dedicated to encouraging music at every step. Stop by for immersive listening parties, like the one they had for the 1975’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, a tour of Philly’s premiere DIY recording studio, and a casual in–store concert.
Location: Northern Liberties | 1050 N Hancock St.
Hours: Mon – Sun: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Long in the Tooth
Known for being the tangible equivalent of the Pitchfork website, Long in the Tooth takes their pretension and turns it into a record store superpower. Even a cursory glance at their Yelp reviews reveals a dichotomy between vinyl purism and appreciation, where the owner Nick will chastise you about record handling while also dishing out nuggets of music trivia. Unlike most record stores, Long in the Tooth orders new stock every day, curating a rotation of new releases, storied classics, and local gems. An added bonus? Long in the Tooth has an impressive collection of memorabilia, including enough stacks of out–of–print books to make any bibliophile swoon.
Location: Rittenhouse Square | 2027 Sansom St.
Hours: Tues – Thurs: 12 – 7 p.m.; Fri – Sat: 12 – 8 p.m.; Sun: 12 – 6 p.m.
Dubbed a “ this past fall, Repo Records sells a trip in a dusty time machine, taking patrons back in time to Golden Age of record shops. Cassette tapes are scattered among rows of vinyls, and shirts advertising cornerstones of the punk scene decorate displays. It’s the details of Repo that make it feel like the record store of your 1980s fantasy, with eclectic regulars who work browsing into their routines, a neon storefront, and an owner with music taste spanning from Joy Division to Chvrches. Repo Records personifies omnivorous music cravings, with the South Street neighborhood serving as the perfect backdrop for the never–ending quest for the greatest record.
Location: South Street | 506 South St.
Hours: Mon – Fri: 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.; Say: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sun: 11:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Common Beat Records is the record store for the people, dedicated to making vinyl not a luxury for music listeners, but the norm. Yes, Common Beat still houses good record store basics—new releases, limited editions, and rarities. But it does so differently, catering to West Philly shoppers who aren’t looking for represses too pretty to spin, but “for slightly more beat-up copies that are well loved but still sound good.” In other words, Common Beat is built for the college student/vinyl addict. The storefront also doubles as a Genius Bar for stereo equipment, selling everything necessary to start a DJing hobby or career. Common Beat offers repairs onsite, too, differentiating them from the run–of–the–mill record purveyor.
Location: Cedar Park | 4916 Baltimore Ave.
Hours: Tues – Sat: 12 – 7 p.m.; Sun: 12 – 5 p.m.
Philadelphia Record Exchange
Philadelphia Record Exchange inexplicably ties itself to the pillars of rock, with co–owner Greg Harris moonlighting as the founder of Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not only that, this record store basically invented Philadelphia’s unique sound, acting as the stage and stomping ground for a pre–Tonight Show Questlove and Roots Band. Come to Philadelphia Record Exchange for a shopping experience like no other. Touting an impressive 15,000 LPs and a history to match, this institution caters to the voracious music lover and the novice.
Location: Fishtown | 1524 Frankford Ave.
Hours: Sun – Fri: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m..; Sat: 11 a.m – 9 p.m.