Fault Radio's Guide to Bay Area Record Stores

 

The Bay Area Record Store Guide

April 12, 2019

By Fault Radio

The Bay Area is known for many things, but it is almost criminally underrated when it comes to its record stores. The quantity of record stores to shop at is a reflection of the area’s deeply rooted vinyl culture that goes back to the beginnings of genres like Disco and Soul. Nowadays it feels like a new specialty store opens up every year, enriching the scene and bringing access to new genres to the masses. Simply put there has never been a better time to be interested in vinyl.


To help out all you vinyl lovers we’ve compiled the first ever definitive guide to the Bay Area’s best records stores just in time for Record Store Day! We’ve highlighted our favorite shops in no particular order to help you know where to start. Make sure to stay curious and try out new watering holes. Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side.


East Bay

1) Park Blvd

2014 Park Blvd. Oakland, CA 94606

If you are looking for any kind of Hip-Hop or Rap, then Park Blvd is a must visit. The shop really knows hip-hop and you will find meticulously labeled sections ranging from 90’s Hip-Hop to Soundcloud Rap. Although small in size the shop boasts a wealth of other genres like Disco, House, and other Electronic Music.

 
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2) Hercules Records

1734 Alcatraz Ave. Berkeley, CA 94703

Soul, funk, rock, and disco 45’s are the name of the game at this South Berkeley record store. 12 inch records are also in abundance and the Jazz section is often full of hidden gems. This place probably takes the crown for best record store in Berkeley with its steady rotation of new and used records and knowledgeable staff. Its calling card is its friendly atmosphere that has led this to be a popular event and hangout spot for the local music community.

 
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3) Paradise Records

482 49th St. Oakland, CA 94609

Paradise Records only opened up in 2018, but it has quickly gained a reputation for stocking the deep cuts that selectors love. Disco, funk, House, Jazz, and eclectic genres permeate the shelves and it’s guaranteed you will find something new on every trip. The whole inventory in this tiny shop is curated by its owner, Oliver whose knowledge of music is matched only by his eagerness to share it.

 
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4) VAMP

331 19th St. Oakland, CA 94612

VAMP is a vintage clothes, records store and artist hangout in Downtown Oakland. Its selection of records is definitely on the eclectic side, but lovers of African, Latin, and funk music will have tons of fun finding what has escaped notice from early diggers. A healthy spattering of Jazz and Soul records makes for a unique selection that has frequently been known to generate some stellar finds. Plus, the store has couches if you feel like staying a while to chat with the lovely owners.

 
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5) Econo Jam Records

2443 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, CA 94612

Econo Jam is a fantastic spot with a great location in Uptown Oakland, which makes it many diggers local spot. The store’s racks are noted for stocking music by local musicians and artists who represent genres ranging from Hip-Hop to Punk Rock. The bargain bins are also always stoked with secret weapons that deserve a chance to shine if you take the time to find them. If you aren’t a bargain shopper then there’s always the rare section and plenty of new contemporary vinyl to stock up on as well.

 
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East Bay Honorable Mentions

6) Contact Records

644 40th St. Oakland, CA 94609

A tiny, but well curated shop that stocks re-issues and rare oddities at value prices.

7) Bandcamp

1901 Broadway. Oakland, CA 94612

The first physical Bandcamp store has landed in Oakland. Its like the website…but in real life.

8) Mod Lang

6328 Fairmount Ave. El Cerrito, CA 94530

Specializes in UK/Euro imports and indies, classic and rare re-issues, U.S. indies & modern rock.

9) Dave’s Record Store

1404 San Pablo Ave. Berkeley, CA 94702

An unassuming storefront on San Pablo with surprisingly good records. Ask the shopkeeper for a recommendation.

10) 1-2-3-4 Go! Records

420 40th St, Oakland, CA 94609

1-2-3-4 Go! Records is a label, record store and online mail order based in Oakland, CA. Focused on Punk, Indie, Garage, hardcore, etc vinyl 

11) Stranded

14 Glen Ave. Oakland, CA 94611

12) Ameoba Berkeley

2455 Telegraph Ave. Berkeley, CA 94704

Nothing gets more classic than Ameoba. You are sure to find all the newest contemporary music.

13) Rasputin Music

2401 Telegraph Ave. Berkeley, CA 94704

On a student budget? This could be a good spot.

14) Strictly Vinyl Records

1060 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

Interesting shelves and plenty of bins to dig through if you are looking for certain records. Popular genres include Reggae and Soul.

15) Down Home Music Store

10341 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530

This little shop specializes in acoustic music from all around the world.

16) Open Mind Music

5517 College Ave. Oakland, CA 94618

The go to place for serious collectors of hard to find vinyl LPs.

17) Vallejo Vinyl & Pinball

336 Georgia St. Vallejo, CA 94590

It’s all in the name really.

18) Groove Yard

5555 Claremont Ave. Oakland, CA 94618

Jazz, jazz, and more jazz!


San Francisco

1) Vinyl Dreams

593 Haight St. San Francisco, CA 94117

Located in the Lower Haight this record shop is the definitive stop for House, Techno, and Electronica. The space was opened by longtime local DJs and still caters to many of San Francisco’s local professional scene. On any given day it is not uncommon to see impromptu DJ sessions performed by regulars and friends of the shop. This is the place to find new and old releases of classic House, Detroit Techno, and new electronic genres, but also a place to find community and other people interested in DJ culture. Well curated bins and helpful descriptive labels on every record makes digging here more fun than any shop we’ve visited so far.

 
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2) RS94109

835 Larkin St. San Francisco, CA 94109

The Tenderloin outpost opened in the summer of 2013 and has gone through a few floor plans since. This enigmatic record store located in the 94109 district of San Francisco is a one stop shop for Techno, House, Experimental, but mostly Techno. It is also the unofficial hub for San Francisco’s stand out record label Dark Entries. In addition to serving coffee, RS acts as an important cultural hub within the contemporary underground music community and hosts shows and events. If you like music to listen to in the dark, this is the place for you. With the City granting them a license to operate parties you can expect a lot of great nights of techno and great techno DJs to be coming through its doors.

 
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3) Groove Merchant Records

687 Haight St. San Francisco, CA 94117

Located in the Lower Haight District of San Francisco, Groove Merchant has been around for 26 years and is one of the best record stores the City has to offer. Known for their incredible selection of Jazz, Funk, and Soul this shop stocks the kinds of things to surprise even the most experienced music aficionados. The reputation of the shop precedes itself and you absolutely cannot leave the city without checking out their shelves; quite frankly it’s a must visit for those on their record store pilgrimage.

 
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San Francisco Honorable Mentions

4) Amoeba Records

1855 Haight St. San Francisco, CA 94117

If you don’t know what you are looking for you can’t go wrong with Amoeba’s extensive selection.

5) Thrillhouse Records

3422 Mission St. San Francisco, CA 94110

Volunteer-run store specializing in Punk vinyl, including albums put out on its own recording label.


6) Stranded

1055 Valencia St. San Francisco, CA 94110

Stranded is the retail arm of archival label Superior Viaduct with locations in New York, San Francisco and Oakland.

7) Noise

3427 Balboa St. San Francisco, CA 94121

Jazz, Soul, Rock - Great 12" singles


8) 1-2-3-4 Go! Records

1038 Valencia St. San Francisco, CA 94110

Independent record store known for its selection of obscure titles & on-site music performances. Specializing in Rock, Punk, and Indie genres.

9) Rooky Ricardo’s Records

419 Haight St. San Francisco, CA 94117

Hip vinyl shop boasting a variety of classic records & listening stations in a compact colorful venue. The Disco and Funk selection is also quite nice.

10) Pyramid Records

3174 24th St. San Francisco, CA 94110

A highly curated record store with obscure music from the 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s, and more.

11) Tunnel Records + Beach Goods

3614A Taraval St. San Francisco, CA 94116

An awesome shop in San Francisco by the beach offering new and used vinyl, cassettes, and funky beachy goods.

12) Grooves Inspiralled Vinyl

1797 Market St. San Francisco, CA 94103

20 year old institution known for hard-to-find gems and a knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff. Whether it is 60's Rock or folk, 70's fusion, 50's Jazz, classical, movie soundtracks, children's music, or just the strangest slab of wax you ever heard, you will always exit Grooves with an unexpected score.

 13) Rasputin Music

1672 Haight St. San Francisco, CA 94117

All around used record store, great for inexperienced shoppers

14) Originals Vinyl

701 Fillmore St. San Francisco, CA 94117

Small record store that in addition to carrying used vinyl, offers ultrasonic cleaning and de-warping services in the local San Francisco Bay Area. Jazz, Hip-Hop, Soul, Blues, Rock, and Folk.


South Bay

1) Needle To The Groove

424 E Santa Clara St. San Jose, CA 95113

This San Jose record shop offers dance music oriented selections like Hip Hop, House, Techno, Soul, Indie, and other great 12" singles. In addition, the shop’s attention to detail and curation make for a very pleasant experience for shoppers. The store also operates its own record label and organizes live performances with local and visiting artists. You can also check out their Fremont location if you are in that area.

 
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South Bay Honorable Mentions

2) Streetlight Records

980 S Bascom Ave. San Jose, CA 95128

Rock, Indie, Punk, Metal, World

3) On The Corner Music

530 E Campbell Ave. Campbell, CA 95008
Jazz, Soul, Rock

4) One Bad Apple

2576 Castro Valley Blvd. Castro Valley, CA 94546

Rock, Punk, Metal, Jazz

 
 

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