Friday, February 3, 2012

Silver Spring is Record Paradise

Joe's Record Paradise back room
By a total stroke of coincidence Silver Spring, MD (the VVer's homebase) - on the northeastern tip of the DC diamond - has become what the VVers think is the epicenter of the DC metropolitan vinyl universe. Easily accessed by metro, bus, road, or bike trail, this fair town's record stores are worth your visit.  Silver Spring has always had a handful of interesting thrift and second hand shops to root around in, but now, with last year's inclusion of former Rockville store, Joe's Record Paradise, it is a vinyl Mecca.

Joe's Record Paradise has been in the DC area since 1974 and in their new stupefyingly huge location on Georgia Avenue, they absolutely put away any contenders.  For a record store, the sheer magnitude of the place is baffling.  At least ten giant rows of mixed cheap records lead you into the store (along with CDs, DVDs, tapes, etc.) and that is only the opening foyer!  The main store-donned in shocking bubblegum pink is just enormous (granted it was the location of the former Legends Billiards).  They occasionally have cool old school bands playing at the far end of the shop.  Joe's collection of rare, new, used, and basically everything under the sun, is thorough in almost every conceivable way.  It is extremely well organized unlike most used shops these days (read: Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, and Barry Manilow all have their own separate sections which can easily be bypassed).  The staff is friendly and full of character; saying that they know their music would almost be an insult.  I love that they have several nice turntables on site for buyers to check out what kind of shape things are in.  Prices run the gamut, but it is hard to imagine ever walking out of this place empty handed.

Roadhouse Oldies has also been around since 1974 specializing in 50's, 60's, soul, R&B, and doo-wop.  They also have an uncatagorizable $3 bin, which often has a few golden finds.  I'll never forget the rainbow covered record (maybe it was a 60's boy band?) we let slip away.  It was the most oddball/amazing looking thing ever.  This is the place where you are most likely to find a record you have never seen or heard of before.  Obscure isn't even touching it.  The store is a little cramped, but the vibe is clearly for true music lovers.  People here know their stuff. It's a warm, cozy shop.

CD/Game Exchange rounds out the bunch.  Also started in the early 70's (in Ohio) this store seems the most modern of the stores.  For vinyl prices they cannot be beat.  They have a pretty regular rotation of material, and records are as cheap as fifteen cents.  You read that right.  CHEAP!  Most of the decent records will set you back about two to five dollars.  The VVers have picked up some really unusual stuff at this shop just because it is so inexpensive that it's worth a little experimentation.  It's a stellar shop and the staff are all really helpful.  They do special orders and have a frequent buyers club as well.  Staff seem pretty honest; they've told us straight when they cannot order us records from certain labels.  They have also looked at price competitors on the web with us.  We've traded in many a pile of records, CDs, and DVDs here and always get enough store credit to score us more random records.

Silver Spring is a vinyl town.  This trifecta of record stores has led to the purchasing of larger shelving units for you know what.  Fun.

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