I am an avid vinyl collector, which means I’m constantly picking up new LPs and scouring bins for vintage finds. I am also passionate about buying vinyl from local record shops and I pretty much cannot stand when people choose to get their records from Urban Outfitters when there are so many other options scattered around the city. I love the mom and pop stores and family businesses, and it brings me great joy knowing that I’m supporting locally-owned businesses, so I decided to share my favourite record shops that are always worth a visit. They are all gems in their own right, and if you ever pass by one of them, you should definitely stop in.
1. Rotate This, 801 Queen Street West
My oh my do I love Rotate This. The shop is nestled in the heart of West Queen West, just a few steps away from Trinity Bellwoods Park and located among dozens of restaurants and cafés that make for an incredibly hip and vibrant neighbourhood. Head to Rotate This to search through their impeccably organized bins of new and used vinyl that span all genres, or stop in to pick up tickets to a long list of local shows. This store is my go-to, especially when I’m searching for something that’s a bit hard to find, as they always seem to stock lesser-known and rare LPs. On top of that, their prices are incredibly fair and they also sell rad record totes and Sonic Youth-inspired shop t-shirts. A trip to Rotate This is always a good idea, but now is a particularly good time to go as they are preparing to move to their new location at 186 Ossington. This means they’re having huge sales and you can get a bunch of new titles at a pretty decent discount. They’ve also been handing out ten percent off coupons that will be valid after the move, so make sure you stop in and pick something up!
2. Kops Records, 229 Queen Street West
Kops Records has many locations, but the one on Queen West is by far my favourite. It’s always packed when I go in – both with people and amazing records. The staff are incredibly nice and helpful, and I often strike up conversations with them as I’m making my purchases. Like Rotate This, Kops does a good job of stocking hard to find LPs, and I repeatedly leave the shop feeling like I hit the jackpot after finding a record that I’ve been searching for for a while. Their prices are usually the cheapest I can find, which is another huge plus. It is also in a prime location close to the Eaton Centre and the shopping district, which makes it easy to visit at any time. Depending on how fast or slow you walk, it’s only a twenty-minute trek from Ryerson! I would definitely recommend stopping by Kops whenever you have the time. It is always worth a visit and I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be satisfied when you leave.
3. Tiny Record Shop, 804 Queen Street East
This shop is truly tiny, though it still packs a lot of punch. Located in Riverside, it is one of my favourite places to stop whenever I venture out to that area. Although small, Tiny Record Shop stocks a well thought out collection of vinyl, making it easy to sift through the stacks and find what you’re looking for. They also often host free in-store concerts that feature bands such as Born Ruffians and The Rural Alberta Advantage. As many of us are university students on tight budgets, this is a huge bonus, and it’s exciting to see a record shop switching things up a little. Although the prices are a bit higher than the stores mentioned previously, Tiny Record Shop is so well-curated that it is still worth a trip. Next time you visit Queen Street East, make sure to visit!
That’s the end of the round-up, folks. Each of these shops is spectacular in its own way, and you should definitely try and get to all of them at one point or another. I’m sure you’ll end up finding something absolutely magical.