Our vinyl scene is as varied as it is vibrant. Although the last few years have seen the shuttering of beloved indie record stores like Treehouse and Flashlight, more than a dozen Twin Cities shops are still alive and kicking.
Minnevangelist’s co-founders were weaned on movies like High Fidelty, Empire Records and Almost Famous. Andrew Parks, a.k.a. @thereluctanttraveler, started out in music journalism, writing for Spin, Entertainment Weekly, and Rolling Stone. @ashleahalpern worked at a record store throughout college; her first “real” job was as an editor at MAGNET Magazine in Philadelphia. When we lived in New York City, we spent countless Saturdays pawing through the stacks at Academy Records, Turntable Lab, and Other Music (R.I.P.).
We didn’t buy records while traveling full-time (2014-2018), but moving to Minnesota — and scouting its well-curated shops — made us fall in love all over again with vinyl. Cuz face it: There’s nothing fun about shopping on Discogs or streaming videos on YouTube; the thrill of discovery is something you can only find in a brick-and-mortar store. Besides, we’ve found the clerks here to be about 100x less snotty than the ones on the coasts. Just sayin’.
Among our local highlights: Agharta Records in St. Paul is home to one of the metro area’s most varied collections of new and used vinyl. @mrdanoconnor tells us that Agharta has the best selection of used jazz vinyl in the Twin Cities. More budget finds are buried in the ’The Dig Room.’
Less than two minutes from Agharta is Barely Bros. Records, a terrific vinyl-only shop that hosts its own 24-hour radio station and DJs every Friday night. We love its wall of 7-inches and broad mix of genres. Co-owner Mike Elias is super-friendly, as is the shop dog Rosie.
Another great cross-section of music, plus gently used turntables, awaits at SolSta Records in Longfellow. Husband-and-wife team Phil and Hannah Borreson host bands in the shop, as well as hip-hop cyphers led by DJ Buster Baxter and rapper Dungeon, The Baptist. Sometimes the couple turns up at breweries and vintage markets in their bright blue Rockin’ Roller Vinyl Bus. And because they post their entire inventory online, you don’t have to wait to snap up those rarities; buy ’em now and pick ’em up in person later.
More good news: The Twin Cities are home to several specialty music shops. Vintage Music Co. stocks thousands of 78 RPMs and cylinder records; they’re also the go-to for fixing turntables or finding obscure replacement parts. Volunteer-staffed Extreme Noise, which turned 25 last year, goes hard on punk and heavy metal. Fifth Element, the official store of Rhymesayers, delivers the best in indie hip-hop. In addition to wax, Dead Media in Seward is great for cassettes, books, and grassroots ’zines; Cheapo Discs, now with three locations, still lives up to its name; and you can sniff out some pretty cool albums at shops that don’t even specialize in records (FindFurnish, El Diablo Amps & Guitars, and Rock Paper Scissors Goods, to name a few).
No roundup would be complete without a big shout-out to the granddaddies of the scene, including Hymie’s Vintage Records, Roadrunner Records, Know Name Records, and Electric Fetus, which will turn 52 in 2020. And, of course, we’ve already marked our calendar for the next Twin Cities Record Show, which takes place six times a year at Able Seedhouse + Brewery. Get digging, friends!
Agharta Records: 2512 University Ave. W., St. Paul, MN; 612-871-5309.
Barely Bros. Records: 783 Raymond Ave., St. Paul, MN; 651-340-5128
Cheapo Discs: 2600 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, MN, 612-827-8238; 71 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, MN, 651-644-8981.
Dead Media: 1828 E. 35th St., Minneapolis, MN; 612-222-1655.
El Diablo Amps: 407 Central Ave. SE., Minneapolis, MN; 612-293-7595.
Electric Fetus: 2000 S. 4th Ave., Minneapolis, MN; 612-870-9300.
Extreme Noise Records: 407 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN; 612-824-0100.
Fifth Element: 2411 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN; 612-377-0044.
FindFurnish: 13 5th St. NE., Minneapolis, MN; 612-730-3389.
Hymie’s Vintage Records: 3820 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN; 612-729-8890.
Know Name Records: 6009 Portland Ave., Minneapolis, MN; 612-869-1070.
Roadrunner Records: 4304 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, MN; 612-822-0613.
Rock Paper Scissors: 4806 Chicago Ave., Minneapolis, MN; 612-823-0269.
SolSta Records: 4022 E. 46th St., Minneapolis, MN; 612-916-0990.
Vintage Music Co.: 1820 E. 38th St., Minneapolis, MN; 612-729-8929.