Don’t tell me you’ve never been vinyl shopping in the DMV. With so many amazing record shops to choose from, not partaking in the region’s dynamic wax culture isn’t only a mistake, it’s downright foolish. Whether you love rock, jazz or vibe with local sounds like go-go, the D.C. area is the perfect spot for anyone who loves a pristine sound. View our full vinyl shop roundup list here.
DAVID FOGEL — Owner, Bump ’n Grind
Vinyl’s lifeline: I think there are a few things keeping vinyl culture alive. First and foremost, it’s an amazing artistic format, from audio to visual. People want real things in their lives and a connection. We can all celebrate a song together, regardless of whether it’s played via digital or hard format — but it’s hard to have a meaningful connection with an MP3. Conversely, holding a record, enjoying the art and sharing it with others is incomparable. For us at Bump ’n Grind, inspired by DJ and digging culture, there’s also the fact that a lot of music (including our own label BnG Wax) is only released on vinyl.
Tips for beginners: Dig. Head into shops, spend some time at the listening stations and enjoy discovering new music.
Who’s carrying the torch: Record sales are soaring so lots of labels are pressing vinyl. I always recommend folks check out vinyl-only labels, which nearly every genre has and DJs who play records. It’s a special skill set and there’s simply something different about watching a DJ dig through their bag, find “that” record and play it over the system — as opposed to looking at a computer screen or USB stick. Especially when that record crackles: You know that record has been shared with a lot of other people, eliciting that same vibe. Locally, I’d recommend people check out vinyl-dedicated bars like Neptune Room, Showtime and the Green Zone.
DAVID GIESE — Owner, CD Cellar
Vinyl’s lifeline: For the die-hards, there’s so much more available on vinyl now. Reissues and remasters of the classics can make listening to familiar favorites a whole new experience. For the newbies, it’s a fun, new way to listen to, collect and appreciate music. People of all ages are really into sharing their recent purchases, collections and current favorite artists on social media sites. Vinyl is really bringing people together, just like music always has.
Tips for beginners: Follow your local record stores on social media. We love to show off all the cool stuff we get in. Get to know your local merchants, let them know what you’re interested in and what you like. Most of us love to help folks discover new artists and help build collections. At my shop, we have a large “new arrivals” section which is where I suggest folks start browsing; all the really desirable titles are bought from that bin before they get filed in their respective sections. Shop early, shop often.
Who’s carrying the torch: It seems like everybody is working hard to keep the vinyl game strong; audiophile-quality labels like Acoustic Sounds, Pure Pleasure, Tone Poet and MoFi are putting out quality vinyl. The indie labels like Sub Pop, Relapse, Merge, Dischord, Electric Cowbell, Third Man, re: discovery and Light in the Attic are continuing to release great music and we’re starting to carry labels that are putting out beautiful pressings of classic soundtracks. Honestly, I could come up with dozens more. Far too many to mention.
QUARTERMAINE “Q” + RITA “DJ REETS” — Owners, Love People Records
Vinyl’s lifeline: As everything is cyclical, vinyl is just making a comeback. Collectors never went away and lots of record stores have continued to survive amidst this age of digital music. People are finding enjoyment and pleasure of having something tangible, being a collector and showing it off. There’s so much more to collecting than just buying a record. The experience in having a classic record with liner notes or rare poster/art is unmatched compared to buying digital music. There is pride in vinyl and more young people are beginning to see the value in that.
Tips for beginners: Check out a local record store and start digging. The excitement in finding a record you’ve been meaning to check out or even realizing one exists is part of the fulfillment of adding to your collection. Chat with the store owners and other diggers about what’s popular and what’s rare. Be sure to learn good vinyl care and handling. And have fun. There’s something out there for everyone.
NEAL BECTON — Owner, Som Records
Vinyl’s lifeline: Increased demand from people getting record players. It started before the pandemic, but lockdown sent it into overdrive.
Tips for beginners: Depends on your budget. Most shops have dollar (or cheap) bins where you can take a chance on stuff you may not know. Most record store employees are pretty knowledgeable so you can tell them what you like and they can point you in the right direction. There are loads of websites with reviews and/or sound clips as well so you can check stuff out before you go shopping.
Who’s carrying the torch: Everyone right now. A few years ago, the only people still putting out vinyl were small indie labels, really popular bands and DJ-centric record labels. Now the problem is demand is outstripping the ability to keep up. Unfortunately, some of the small indies who kept vinyl alive are now having to wait behind the major labels to get their records pressed.
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