28 record stores to visit before you die

Vinyl Week on What Hi-Fi?


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Welcome to Vinyl Week on What Hi-Fi?, in association with Technics. You can find out more about how Technics has been defining turntable culture for half a century and the company's SL-1200M7L Limited Edition turntable.

Just as Christmas is a time for family, Record Store Day should be dedicated to your friendly neighbourhood vinyl merchant.

But once you've shown some love to your local, why not explore some hidden gems from further afield? Vinyl-themed vacation, here you come...

In this list of 28 record stores to visit (ideally) before you die, we have dusty basements, nine-storey ridicuplexes and refurbed prostitution windows in a trip that takes us across the globe. All of them have managed to survive the past 15 months and many have online shopfronts too so you can bag yourself some vinyl that's more well-travelled than you are.

More: 10 tips for buying second-hand vinyl

Spillers Records – Cardiff, UK

Proudly billed as the oldest record shop in the world, when Spillers Records was founded by Henry Spiller in 1894 it sold phonographs, wax cylinders and shellac discs. Two big moves later, from the Queen's Arcade and then The Hayes, the store is now in its second address within The Morgan Arcade, and sells everything from metal to spoken word.

Seriosha Record Shop – Havana, Cuba

In the words of Gilles Peterson, "in all honesty, it's not a record shop per se, more of a bric-a-brac shop selling everything from sewing machines to car parts, and it's right at the back of a little market". Even if you manage to locate the shop, its wares aren't always in the greatest of nick – but Seriosha serves as a vast-if-disordered catalogue of Cuba's musical history.

Real Vinyl Guru – Nairobi, Kenya

Odds are you've found a gem of a store when its proprietor (Jimmy Rugami, in this instance) is dubbed 'Mr Records'. His shop is a treasure-trove of African music, and the only one remaining in Kenya. "Every time I knew somebody is closing down and he has records, I couldn't stop the urge to buy one, including even crossing borders," he says.

Licorice Pie – Melbourne, Australia

Licorice Pie deserves its place on this list for sheer eclecticism. "We stock all sorts" is its shibboleth, and the everything-goes mantra employed by founder David Reitman sees Jerry Lee Lewis living under the same roof as choice Japanese boogie.

Jacaranda Records – Liverpool, UK

The Jacaranda Club has its place in Beatles history, but the aim when re-opening was to be a part of Liverpool's musical future rather than just its legacy. It combines a record store with a bar and live music, and there are decks built into tables acting as listening booths; and Jacaranda is home to one of the final remaining Voice-O-Graph booths anywhere in the world.

The Flip Side – Dubai, UAE

Celebrating its four-year anniversary the week before record store day, The Flip Side is proudly Dubai's only independent record store. While stocking a global selection, The Flip Side champions Arabic music and local labels, and regularly hosts live music.

Discos Paradiso – Barcelona, Spain

One Discos Paradiso founder (Gerard Condemines) began selling records in another of the city's stores, La Ruta Natural, while the other (Arnau Farrés) cut his teeth reselling flea-market finds on Discogs. Now they run this haven of electronic music, a genuine hub of the art in Barcelona.

Technical Equipment Supply – Ypsilanti, USA

It sells vinyl and cassettes alongside books and collectibles, but the main draw of Technical Equipment Supply is its in-house label. With previous releases including works from Aphex Twin and Madlib, its pressings are available only to those who visit the shop in person.

Space Hall – Berlin, Germany

Vinyl is far from in short supply around Berlin, but you'd struggle to match the behemoth Space Hall for scale in any major European city. It's down to more than simply its size; impressive too is its scale and variety of genre, and it leaves specialisations to its many neighbours.

Rough Trade West – London, UK

Though shuffled along from its birthplace of Kensington Park Road, this is essentially the first Rough Trade store. Opened as a record shop by Geoff Travis in 1976, it went on to sire the record label that brought us The Smiths, The Libertines and The Strokes. It now has stores in East London, Bristol, Nottingham and New York.

New Gramophone House – New Delhi, India

Opened in 1930 in Lahore, Pakistan, and relocating 17 years later following partition, New Gramophone House is Delhi's last remaining record store. "From religious recordings in Urdu, to Bollywood B Movie soundtracks via snake charmer recordings, this was unlike any record shop I've experienced," says Tom D. Morgan, whose photo you see here.

Rockers International – Kingston, Jamaica

Orange Street, known as Beat Street, was once the beating heart of Jamaica's music industry. Rockers International is the record shop of late reggae legend Augustus Pablo, and where you'll find the finest reggae, ska and rocksteady in its spiritual home.

Discolombia – Barranquilla, Colombia

Once a chain of 17 stores, Discolombia is now down to one - which houses all the stock of its previous shells. It's a crate-digger's dream, with more than half-a-century's worth of Latin music to finger through, and is home to label Felito Records.

Wuxtry Records – Athens, USA

"Musicians didn't just hang out here, they worked here," says Wuxtry owner Dan Wall. Among them Peter Buck, who – while working at the store – met a university student named Michael Stipe. More than only a mecca for R.E.M. fans, though, Wuxtry is a Georgia institution of more than 40 years' standing.

Red Light Records – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Housed in a former prostitution window in the heart of Amsterdam's red light district, Red Light Records is a small but well-stocked oddity. It specialises in "obscure vinyl and rare gems", and you're as likely to head out with some Bollywood or Japanese synth-pop as you are a latest house cut.

Amoeba Music – Los Angeles, USA

Opened in 2001, adding to stores in Berkeley and San Francisco, the Hollywood branch of Amoeba Music on Sunset Boulevard occupies an entire block and, unsurprisingly, bills itself as the biggest independent record store in the world.

Mabu Vinyl – Cape Town, South Africa

Mabu Vinyl is co-owned, alongside its founder Jacques Vosloo, by Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman. He was at the centre of the acclaimed documentary film Searching For Sugar Man (a journey to find out what happened to American musician Sixto Rodriguez, little known in the USA but hugely influential in apartheid South Africa without even knowing it), making Mabu as much a draw for movie buffs as record collectors.

Casarão do Vinil – Sao Paulo, Brazil

Casarão do Vinil translates as Big House of Vinyl, and that's precisely what it is. Part of a thriving record store scene in Sao Paulo, it is home to maybe a million records divided by price rather than genre or artist, with not a corner of any room left bare.

The Thing – New York, USA

Essentially a thrift-store basement filled with of hundreds of thousands of dusty records, The Thing is one man's hell and another man's paradise. Owner Larry Fischer replenishes his stock weekly with whatever collection is going cheap so, though those folkloric first presses have most likely all gone, those willing to work for it may find a one-dollar gem.

Chico Records – Beirut, Lebanon

Named Pick Of The Pops when it opened in 1964, Chico Records got its current name when a bomb went off during the Lebanese civil war of 1976 and destroyed the sign. Moving to the university district in 2004, it has among the finest collections of Middle Eastern records going anywhere.

Baza Record Shop – St Petersburg, Russia

Situated in the unoffical home of St Petersburg's alternative art scene, Pushkinskaya 10, Baza is as much a source of DJ and sound equipment as it is vinyl. You're unlikely to find another record store with such inspiring artistic surroundings, however.

12 Tónar – Reykjavik, Iceland

Another record store combined with a label, 12 Tónar fast became a haven for Iceland's finest artists such as Björk and Sigur Rós when it opened in 1998. Its offerings are varied, but its classical section in particular has the approval of Gramophone reviewer Andrew Mellor, who wrote about it perhaps being the best in the world.

The Jazzhole – Lagos, Nigeria

Established by Kunle Tejuosho in the 1980s, this record, book and art shop, and café, is a one-stop shop for everything to do with African arts – and beyond. "From the busy metropolis of Lagos to the rebellious streets of Rio, the music of the universe rests on our shelves," Tejuosho says of The Jazzhole.

Tower Records – Tokyo, Japan

This is the very last Tower Records with its doors still open. Located in Shibuya, Tokyo, the store is spread over nine floors with books sitting alongside the records, a café and space for live music. Tower may very well have saved the best for last.

Gramaphone Records – Chicago, USA

Opened in 1969, originally stocking folk, jazz and blues music, Gramaphone Records played a significant role in growing house music during the '80s. Remaining a specialist in electronic music, this is your home for crate digging in the birthplace of house.

Mazeeka Samir Fouad – Cairo, Egypt

(Image credit: egyptindependent)

Operating since 1976, Mazeeka Samir Fouad is one of Cairo's oldest vinyl shops, packed with around 15,000 records covering Egyptian and Western music as well as almost every genre between. Hidden inside an unassuming building, you'll find a mini-museum containing a large selection of vintage gramophones, amplifiers and even records made out of stone. And if you still have space in your hand luggage, then keep a lookout for the store's affordable stock of and complete works by classical composers that, according to the store manager, Ahmed Hamada, were rescued from family collections in abandoned houses around Cairo, old record stores and even the Khedive Royal Opera House’s library which burned down 1971.

Pet Sounds - Stockholm, Sweden

(Image credit: Pet Sounds)

A favourite of Quentin Tarantino, Pet Sounds has been one of the most important independent record shops in Stokholm since 1979 with a worldwide reputation and a stringent grading policy. The staff has a wealth of experience with founder Stefan Jacobson having worked in record stores since he was 15. The shop's legacy has even been documented in a book (available only in Swedish) by Lennart Persson Musik NonStop: Pet Sounds i Våra Hjärtan.

Rubadub Records - Glasgow, Scotland

(Image credit: rubadub)

For 30 years Rubadub has been a nexus of electronic music in Glasgow staffed by a mixture of musicians, producers and DJs eager to help everyone from the casual browser to the music professional. The record stock is genre-spanning, specialising in underground techno and electro music from around the world. And along with an obscure 12-inch, you can get advice on studio monitors, soundcards and turntables for hi-fi or DJing.