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Grasshopper Records

Posted by Ryan Bolton / Posted on June 11, 2012

Grasshopper RecordsGrasshopper Records doesn't have a storefront sign yet. Just milk crates chock-full of records sitting out font, unassumingly. Oh, and Wu-Tang's "Protect Ya Neck" debut single resting in the window. Welcome to Grasshopper, Toronto's newest used record store.

Grasshopper RecordsA fairly narrow store, sitting in Little Portugal, Grasshopper offers a laidback environ as soon as you enter. With exposed brick running the length of the shop, records and Star Wars memorabilia fill the space. The records, all used and many are great finds I notice from quickly browsing, range from The Cure to NWA to Bob Marley to Sonic Youth to Bruce Springsteen.

Grasshopper RecordsBehind the counter is Derek Madison, aka Grasshopper, the shop's owner and Toronto music scene aficionado. With long dreads tied up atop his head and a sleeveless black shirt, Madison is well known in Toronto's music scene.

Grasshopper RecordsHe's played in Toronto's Grasshopper (where his handle comes from) since the early '90s, not to mention playing in Transcendental Rodeo, 10,000 Watt Head and Glass Sex on the side. He also DJ's every Monday at The Red Light, just down the street in Little Portugal. "I really thought this neighbourhood needed something that wasn't a bar, as much as I love all the bars," says Madison.

Grasshopper RecordsHaving sold records from his large personal collection to "beat junkies and diggers" for years in Kensington, he wanted to move into his own space. And by large collection, I mean large, as he started collecting vinyl when he was in Grade 2, says Madison. And he knows his music well. He has listened to about 95% of the records he's selling. "I just bring records into the store that I dig," he says. "So if someone picks out a record, I'll be like 'This is great, this one sucks, this is the part I like [on this album].'"

Grasshopper RecordsWhen he was younger, Madison went to Rotate This and hungout on the couches. He loved the in-store shows with bands like The Melvins and Codeine. "So I was like I want my record store to be like that!" He's already done a number of in-store shows with bands like Sailboats are White and Mass Horns. Brendan Canning helped DJ the store opening in April.

Grasshopper RecordsFor NXNE, next Thursday, he has Brooklyn's MEN doing an in-store. "And it's not your conventional party zone so it feels more like a party." Good thing, as he has a liquor licence for the shows too.

Grasshopper RecordsWriting and photography by Ryan Bolton



mike in parkdale / June 11, 2012 at 11:23 am
nice looking shop. It's good to see records stores that are well curated and not just waist deep in clutter.

Next question - how are the prices? It would probably take a complicated model to match something as archaic as used vinyl prices, but you couldn't review a restaurant on this site without talking about cost. I'm assuming that it's on par with the rest of the city, but that's a detail that should be mentioned.
Cam / June 11, 2012 at 11:41 am
I love that this place opened up and will keep popping in but the prices are absolutely insane. I saw many copies of records marked for $30-50 that are very common sell for $5-10 online.
Matt Y / June 11, 2012 at 11:42 am
I am proud to be one of the "beat junkies and diggers".
Mike / June 11, 2012 at 11:50 am
This is a nice shop but the prices are absolutely insane. Yes, he has a few collectibles at average prices but the proprietor clearly knows nothing about price-checking, especially for contemporary releases. $45 for a used Stuart Staples LP? It's $15 new at other shops. $25 for a used Panda Bear that's in print and $15 - $19 anywhere else?

Two seconds on eBay and he could confirm prices--the Panda Bear Person Pitch is on there right now new for $18. Why would anyone pay $25 for a used one with a beat-up cover? (Most of the covers at Grasshopper are beat, btw).

I had high hopes when I heard a new shop was moving into the neighbourhood but, at these prices, I'll continue to travel a little further.
jen / June 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm
I'm so happy this is finally open! Great addition to the neighbourhood. Derek has great taste so the selection is top notch...SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL RECORD STORE
Daniel / June 11, 2012 at 12:38 pm
Ah screw all the whiners! There are records to be had in this shop that aren't even available online, many for less than the cost of shipping alone. It's a good scene. If you want something for less just barter!
Adam / June 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm
Yep, Derek is a great dude but the prices are a lil' high. That said, I'm glad he has a roof over his head (and records) - I'm sure with time Grasshopper will grow into a jewel.

Also, does anyone know if there's any other bands aside from the Men playing here during NXNE?
Phil / June 11, 2012 at 02:19 pm
Curated. Not just for art anymore.
Alex / June 11, 2012 at 03:30 pm
Sorry, I expect and hope this place to fail fast. The best part of record shopping is sifting through everything and finding a wide variety of gems. Why would you want someone to eliminate your ability to be eclectic? Record store employees/owners should dictate what is played in the store and showcase their favorites, but curating a store to their taste? Pass. Perhaps I like post-Bob Stinson era-Replacements, and the "curator" does not? That means he will not stock "Don't Tell A Soul," but may stock their earlier LP's? I would sooner go to Sonic Boom where everything is stocked.
mike in parkdale replying to a comment from Daniel / June 11, 2012 at 03:45 pm
"Ah screw all the whiners!"

Really? I was asking an honest question (how do prices compare?) and people gave their opinions (prices are high). That's not really what I'd call whining - that's what I'd call an online information exchange.

and personally, I judge a record shop by the quality of their discount bins. Are there good finds in there, or is it just old CHFI and KTel compilations? I'll reserve judgement on that until I see the shop for myself.
Christopher replying to a comment from Alex / June 11, 2012 at 04:27 pm
This is mental. It's like saying "Every clothing store should have every type of clothing ever made, so I don't have to find the specialty shops I like."

Matt Y replying to a comment from mike in parkdale / June 11, 2012 at 07:17 pm
What's wrong with CHFI and K-tel comps? huh, huh? K-Tel's "Full Tilt" and "CHFI's Candlelight And Wine" still rock to this day!
Tommy replying to a comment from Alex / June 11, 2012 at 07:30 pm
Hey Christopher:
Rehana / June 11, 2012 at 08:19 pm
Wish him the best of luck! He used to come into the record store I used to work at and was always super nice :)
earl grey / June 11, 2012 at 08:50 pm
Good luck to him, Nice guy and I've always found his (record fair) prices very reasonable.
LOL / June 11, 2012 at 08:59 pm
So dude buys a bunch of stuff off Discogs for pennis and resells it for 300% more???? Record stores are suppose to be cheap… have good finds…. Playa Da Record is where ill buy u thank u very much
OOO___OOO replying to a comment from LOL / June 12, 2012 at 08:14 am
Play de has no selection anymore, but thanks for your trollish audition.
tnt / June 12, 2012 at 08:38 am
What the hell are you talking about xiaochen?
Drake replying to a comment from LOL / June 12, 2012 at 10:35 am
Buys for pennies and sells at a 300% mark-up? Alright! Records for less than a dollar!
thewhaaaaa / June 12, 2012 at 09:19 pm
correction / June 14, 2012 at 10:00 am
uh, that link is not to THE MEN that are playing.
terry cargrill / July 4, 2012 at 09:46 am
Derek has a wide selection of records and hidden gems to dig through - he just likes and knows the records he has (ie. he's not filling the bins with crap just to pad his stock.)

His prices are truthfully on par with other shops in most cases. That being said, I dug around and I got wicked deals on all the records I found.

I've seen a few records that I would consider a little overpriced on the sticker - but dude, Derek the owner is IN the store - he's like, standing RIGHT THE FUCK THERE. So, if you see a record you want, but the price isn't right just TALK TO HIM. How hard is that? Sheesh.
Jonathan / August 15, 2012 at 09:32 am
Great place to go to pay 2x or 3x what you'd pay for records you can easily find elsewhere in Toronto (neurotica, she said boom, zoinks) AND get attitude from the owner.
Frank Waxman / August 24, 2012 at 07:35 pm
some people should go there and see by themselves, I was there today, I found a lot of records from 5$ to 10$ that I would have never found in other torontos stores. derek was friendly and caring, and I sure love a store with a personality, not one more chaotic mess with tons of useless records. the selection was sharp and ecclectic -)
Ckeg / July 26, 2013 at 05:55 pm
An awesome store with no filler. Even the worst album you will buy here is better than the crap you own. I love Grasshopper Records. No hate on Rotate That or whatever, but if you love really interesting music check this place out. He will not sell you a bad album.
Tori / December 12, 2013 at 10:25 pm
Any ideas where I can find Spanish records here in Toronto?
Brooklyn / December 18, 2013 at 08:00 am
I was wondering if they sold vintage record players??
Michael Mulhern / December 30, 2013 at 12:53 pm
Love you man...bought an original Beatles that I was looking for for for 20 yrs. glad to see you now have a store...Iam coming to see...
Kevin New / March 11, 2014 at 10:31 am
Paid a visit last week and whilst I enjoyed digging through all the 45's the prices are ridiculous.

Why do stores insist on putting out 45's with no prices and then try and gouge you with off the cuff prices? Absolutely no incentive to go back.

I did pick up a couple of the Summer label 45's but even they were at the top end of the scale.
Bandersnark / March 16, 2014 at 12:34 pm
If you prefer your records scratched, without innersleeves and a third-higher priced than other Toronto record stores, Grasshopper Records is the place for you. They buy new releases from other stores, only to price them double of what they are sold for at Sonic Boom, Soundscapes, and June Records. If you so choose, you can engage in a game at Grasshoppers called "How Long has that Pizzabox Been Sitting There?' My highest score was spotting the same box after three weeks.
monty krump replying to a comment from LOL / June 18, 2014 at 02:02 pm
come on guys give the dude a break , if you think his prices are crazy check out what the japanese are doing with reggae .
Feel free to check out my website
Offers are welcome ( mail order to any where in the world that has a postal service )
monty krump replying to a comment from LOL / June 18, 2014 at 02:09 pm
Francis Mariani / October 21, 2014 at 10:40 pm
The prices are ridiculously high. The records are generally in bad shape.- lots of torn and damaged sleeves - my thirty year old albums are in better shape. Most of the albums are not stored in plastic sleeves so they will only get worse. This is a very disappointing shop in my neighborhood.
vinylhound / December 1, 2014 at 02:09 pm
This guy used to sell banged-up records on the street in Kensington Market for seriously inflated prices. The gouging continues. Best left to drunk hipsters with fat wallets.
Tetyana / February 24, 2015 at 12:29 pm
Hi Guys, I need some help :-)
My father in law just passed away and he left big collection of 33 1/3 jazz lps records, collectable with books, ads from newspapers, complete time life and book of the month sets and much more . Is there any place I can go and try to find out more about that collection? I have pictures.

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