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 Disco and Soul music. Nowadays it feels like a new specialty store opens up every year, enriching the scene and bringing access to new genres. 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.
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.
UPDATE: Park Blvd is no longer open.
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. Those looking for electronic or dance genres will find a small, but often overlooked selection that can lead to scoring unexpected techno and house 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. It also is one of few physical locations stocking cassette releases from local labels. Its calling card is its friendly atmosphere that has led this to be a popular event and hangout spot for the local music community.
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.
1773 Broadway, 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.
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.
East Bay Honorable Mentions
644 40th St. Oakland, CA 94609
A tiny, but well curated shop that stocks re-issues and rare oddities at value prices.
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.
1404 San Pablo Ave. Berkeley, CA 94702
An unassuming storefront on San Pablo with surprisingly good records. Ask the shopkeeper for a recommendation.
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
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.
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.
10341 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530
This little shop specializes in acoustic music from all around the world.
16) Open Mind Music
5521 College Ave. Oakland, CA 94618
The go to place for serious collectors of hard to find vinyl LPs.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
3422 Mission St. San Francisco, CA 94110
Volunteer-run store specializing in Punk vinyl, including albums put out on its own recording label.
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.
3427 Balboa St. San Francisco, CA 94121
Jazz, Soul, Rock - Great 12" singles
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.